Title: Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager, Modus

Age: 32

Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University

Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Professional engineer (P.E.)

Organizational Affiliations/Achievements/Awards: ASHRAE member

What does your day-to-day job entail? 

My day-to-day job entails leading our mechanical and electrical design team through the design services for HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, electric, and telecommunications for commercial, educational, and health care buildings. I’m also responsible for coordinating solutions with other design professionals as a team, continual review of construction documents, and providing solutions to conflicts in construction.

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

I have always enjoyed problem-solving. Early on, I put a lot of time into math and science, and it wasn’t until a teacher recommended engineering that I considered it as a career option. It's a rewarding feeling to know that my design makes a positive impact on the people who will use the building as well as the community the building belongs to.

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

Leading the mechanical design for a high-profile, LEED building at my alma mater. Like most projects, it was challenging, due to the complexity of the existing conditions and intricate structure. Finding solutions to those challenges made me very proud of the finished product. It is a very cool building that will be seen for years to come.

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 construction industry is very male-dominated, so it can lead to a feeling of isolation for women. When I feel that way, I make an extra effort in finding similarities with those I’m working with before diving into the nitty-gritty problems at hand. Once everyone is comfortable with each other, it’s a lot easier to have difficult conversations, which leads to more cooperation. I don’t think engineering was presented as a career option when I was young, and even as I got older, it wasn’t talked about as much as other STEM occupations. I’ve noticed recently that more children’s programs and books present women in science and engineering, so hopefully that can make kids think “I can do that too.”

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 think the advances in technology and utilizing the cloud has really helped collaboration and expedited problem-solving in design and in construction. It has also helped with project organization and streamlined communication. I think the design process has changed the least. We still have the same deliverable checks as the project develops.

What drives/motivates you every day?

Knowing the decisions I make every day will directly affect end users is motivating. I feel responsible for making sure my decisions are fully thought through. Supporting and providing financial security for my family is something that drives me to work everyday as well.

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

My career goals are to work on projects that continue to be a pillar in the community in sustainability and longevity.

What’s one thing no one knows about you?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it doesn’t involve the stressors of gift giving. I received the best gift two years ago when my daughter was born, just in time for the holiday.

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

I’ve had a great mentor at my current job. I can always count on her to lend a hand when I need help. She is really good at passing down learning experiences from her own career and is always rooting for me to succeed.

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

You will most likely stand out in this male-dominated industry, but don’t let that make you feel inferior or like an imposter. Try to make your difference a positive with different ways of thinking and collaborating. There is not “one type fits all” in engineering. You are just as capable if you’ve made it this far.