Title: Electrical Engineer and Electrical Department Manager, McClure Engineering

Age: 44

Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Notre Dame; juris doctor, St. Louis University School of Law

Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Engineer in training (EIT), Missouri Bar Association, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

What does your day-to-day job entail? 

Throughout any given day, I wear many hats at McClure Engineering. Most of my day is spent communicating. I firmly believe that communication is the key element to project success, whether externally with clients and subconsultants or internally with the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEPFP) design team. As an engineering associate, I ensure my designer has the information he or she needs to complete the job with the level of quality expected at McClure Engineering.

As electrical department manager, I check in with the task engineers to ensure their work schedules are accurate and achievable while also assigning the right people to the proper jobs/clients.

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

I grew up in a contracting family, and my father is an electrical engineer. I always loved looking at floor plans and “helping” my dad do project takeoffs when he brought work home on weekends. He would have me take a scale and figure out square footages. I’m sure my “help” caused him to take longer to finish, but, even back then, I always knew I belonged in engineering/construction. I simply took a strange path to get here.

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

The proudest aspect of my career would probably be the first project I designed on my own. I no longer had someone checking over every calculation or triple-checking the construction documents. I was the person who had to figure out how to solve all the problems created by the mistakes I made. Making those mistakes helped me learn the most — not only about engineering but how to handle difficult situations. The most rewarding aspect of my career is the opportunity to work with all the wonderful teams I've worked with. I have been able to work on some challenging projects, and having a good team is essential to successfully pushing your boundaries/comfort level.

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? 

I have been in the industry for many years and am proud to say the number of women on job sites has increased since I started back in 2004. I have to say one of the most frustrating aspects as a woman in construction is that everyone knows your name. When you are the only woman at a pre-bid, site visit, or coordination meeting, you don’t get to blend in, so people tend to remember you. Early in my career, this fact caused me to be overly cautious for fear of making mistakes. I now realize that no one knows everything, nor should anyone be expected to know everything. Knowing where to find the answer is key.

To increase the number of women in engineering, we need to start young. To help spread the love of engineering, I have enjoyed going into my children’s schools and talking about what it means to be an engineer. I hope seeing a woman in what used to be (and may still be) considered a male-dominated industry inspires girls to consider engineering as an option.

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 have been working for more than 18 years. Over that time, technology, communication, and timelines have changed the most. As we have become more available electronically, timelines have become shorter and expectations greater. One of my biggest challenges is balancing always being available for work with also being available for my family.

What drives/motivates you every day?

My family. I want them to be proud when they tell others what I do for a living and describe some of the projects I've worked on.

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

I have been given so many great opportunities that my engineering bucket list has been largely checked off throughout my career. I have designed my own project, been given the opportunity to help mentor new engineers, and been involved in landmark projects that will last a lifetime and beyond. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had and look forward to seeing what the future brings.

What’s one thing no one knows about you?

I played wide receiver for a flag football team in college.

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

My parents inspired my competitive drive to do my best every day. My father specifically taught me how to be both a good project manager and engineer. As I started my career, he always reminded me not to be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. If you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, admit it, but let him or her know you will find the answer and follow up. Following up is extremely important, as a good reputation takes years to earn but seconds to lose. At the end of the day, I want my performance on a current project with a client to lead to future opportunities.

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

Do it. The work is very satisfying and challenging in a good way. No two jobs are ever the same, so you will constantly be learning something new or figuring out a better way to solve a problem.