Title: Manager of Mechanical Engineering Services, Rushing 

Age: 54

Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, University of Washington

Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Professional engineer (P.E.) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP)

What does your day-to-day job entail?

As manager of the mechanical engineering studio at Rushing, I aid in the design of projects and act as the lead overseer to ensure all our projects are performing exceptionally. Most importantly, I work with my team to ensure everyone feels supported and setup for success.

What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?

Even though I’ve been an engineer for 30 years, it wasn’t until I realized the impact I could have on the environment that I completely fell in love with it. I’m amazed by the influence my projects and decisions can have on the long-term effects of preserving and saving our Earth. Since this realization, I have been committed to moving the needle in the right direction through my work as an engineer.

What has been the most rewarding/proudest aspect of your engineering career?

Working with such passionate, hardworking, and curious people — both clients and coworkers — is the most rewarding aspect of my career. Working with clients who are eager to learn how to make their buildings better for their people and the environment as well as working on integrative and collaborative teams is something I will never take for granted.

What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example? Why aren’t there more women in engineering? How can we increase the number of women in engineering?

The challenges women face every day in our industry is evident from the few numbers of women at engineering firms. Many firms are hesitant to move women into leadership positions because of stigma and unconscious bias. A constant reminder of this disparity is when vendors come in the office and promptly refer to our engineers as “he,” or when we receive correspondence addressed to “gentlemen.” Believe it or not, this is still happening.

I fully believe more women would go into mechanical engineering if the field was called “building energy engineering.” The assumption that men belong in mechanical engineering is assumed by both genders due to our history of women inclusivity.

How many years have you been active in the engineering sector? What’s changed the most in that time? What’s changed the least?

I’ve been in the HVAC field since 1991, and the thing that has changed the most is how we deliver projects. When I first started, I was in an office, doing hand-drafting, and didn’t have a computer aided drafting (CAD) program yet. Now, the times have changed, and we are using 3D technology to fly through a building and resolve conflicts in online meetings. Talk about living in the future.

What drives/motivates you every day?

I’m consistently inspired by the personal stories of the engineers in our firm and their “why” stories. Each person has a different path of struggle and success, and I take their learnings to heart. They continue to inspire me in finding better solutions to problems and looking for opportunities to use new technologies. Working with some amazing people makes me want to make a bigger impact and look more deeply at each problem to find creative opportunities and synergies.

What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?

There are many things I haven’t accomplished yet, but at the top of the list is working on a project that has dynamic glass, which can provide shading in response to a need for cooling. I think there is a lot we can do to make buildings smarter, and this is one of them.

What’s one thing no one knows about you?

Before I was an engineer, I represented Seattle at the Lifeguard Nationals Competition in Galveston, Texas. I still have a love of the water and swim in the open water regularly.

List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe precisely how they’ve shaped your success.

Someone who influenced me as an engineer is Rae Anne Rushing. At the time, she was the local ASHRAE president and an owner-advocate for a project I was working on. She’s always fearless in how she helped guide and advocate for owners. She thought of things that may have been overlooked by fellow engineers or more traditional approaches. As a fellow female in a male-dominated industry, she is a continuous beacon of encouragement and resolution in the field.

What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know everything, and don’t let perceived failures change your direction. Forge ahead and look for allies because they are out there and want to help you.