» Featured Articles
» Subscription Information
» Reader Survey
» Companies Actively Recruiting
Leading the Charge
Electrical engineers find their career spark in a variety of fields and get a charge out of their work.
Electrical engineers today get a charge out of the work they do as the discipline they chose to study has provided very varied opportunities.
In fact, there are many facets, fields, industries and disciplines in which an electrical engineering degree can spark an electrifying career. Just ask the engineers featured here. Each has a grounded foundation of critical thinking and analysis that a STEM degree, an engineering degree and, specifically, an electrical engineering degree provide. It’s something in high demand across careers.
Just ask the engineers featured here. And all of their respective employers are reaping the benefits of their backgrounds. Learn more about them and their positive electrical engineering experience.
Pierce Leads with Customers in Mind at Duke Energy
The regulated utilities in Duke Energy’s electric utilities and infrastructure unit serve approximately 7.7 million retail customers in six states, with another five-state 1.6 million customers receiving natural gas.
With so many people dependent upon Duke Energy for energy delivery, it comes as no surprise that they’re of utmost importance for Sharene Pierce, PE - especially since she’s the vice president of engineering, customer delivery.
“Each day my top priority is thinking about our customers,” remarks Pierce, a North Carolina licensed professional engineer, and a North Carolina State University engineering alumna who’s been with the Fortune 150 company for 19 years thus far.
She credits her varied background that fuses technical and people skills for preparing her for the executive position she holds now.
“While my academic engineering training prepared me to solve equations and run simulations, I found that people experiences prepared me most for leadership positions. Volunteering to lead service projects, public speaking opportunities and mentoring youth all provided growth prior to becoming a leader at Duke Energy,” she elaborates.
Today she and her team of 300 engineers, technicians, and associates are passionate problem-solvers who work to answer questions such as the following: how can we support the growth of existing and new businesses? How can we incorporate more renewable power? How can we eliminate power outages? These questions and many other pressing issues are on her mind on a daily basis, she notes.
Stressing that “the electrical grid is actually the largest machine on earth,” Pierce describes how it’s her job to ensure customers never need think about that machine.
“Just like the oxygen in the atmosphere, humans need readily available electricity at all times, and it’s my passion to make that happen,” Pierce points out.
And while she and others work diligently to achieve that, she also recognizes the average age of utility workers is 50 years old and older. With significant retirements pending, she highlights the impending need to soon replace experienced, knowledgeable engineers across the industry with talented, new and younger engineers, with their experiences overlapping for the betterment of the electrical grid and customers.
“This creates exciting opportunities for future electrical engineers,” she asserts.
For those aspiring to be that next generation, Pierce offers the following points of consideration for a career caring for the electrical grid:
1. Resilience: Engineering is a challenging career that has as much to do with not quitting as it does with math and science talent.
2. Competence: Engineering fundamentals are non-negotiable, and the result of hard work, coaching, and initiative.
3. Innovativeness: Industries today are changing faster than ever, so, in addition to solving problems, today’s engineers have the incredible opportunity to create and be a part of a transforming energy frontier.
Her advice to getting your own start? “Start with a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Pursue opportunities to discover your best fit. Learn as much as you can early on in the workplace, and be willing to understand why ‘this is the way it has always been’ while respectfully proposing new ways to do business,” she shares.
As an African-American woman in a highly technical field, Pierce has had a diverse career that includes establishing relationships with Duke Energy’s largest customers, operating a $250 million virtual generator and developing a $4 billion strategic investment plan. She also enjoys visiting local schools to speak with students of all backgrounds about pursuing careers in STEM.
For more information about Duke Energy, visit duke-energy.com/careers, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
Mathew’s Electrical Engineering Expertise Lends Itself to Movable Bridge Projects at HNTB
Delighted with her choice of the University at Buffalo SUNY (UB), Chincy Mathew graduated with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and an MBA with concentrations in operations and information systems.
“During my time at UB, I was involved in various engineering associations and worked part-time in UB’s computing and information technology department and the School of Management IT department. Upon graduation, I worked briefly in operations and procurement before accepting a position, in 2008, as a junior engineer, at Kansas City, MO-headquartered HNTB, a leading infrastructure solutions firm,” she states.
As a freshman, Mathew started as a computer engineering major. “As I began to take more advanced-level courses, however, I realized my interests aligned more with electrical engineering,” she remarks.
Citing electrical engineering’s diverse breath of applications, Mathew found her niche in movable bridge projects.
“With thousands of movable bridges that provide passage for marine, vehicular, pedestrian, and rail traffic, electrical designs ensure roadways and railways continue to operate efficiently,” she explains, noting that necessary bridge power and control systems are designed to effectively maintain different modes of traffic while minimizing disruptions in a safe and convenient manner.
Now, as a level ll electrical engineer, Mathew looks back on the start of her engineering career. “There’s a duality in the engineering field,” she says, referring to the technical side and the business side, both of which played a significant part in her career journey.
“My engineering education gave me the technical building blocks while my business education and involvement in student organizations helped me become a better problem-solver and communicator,” she remarks, mentioning, too, that she was able to build on her technical knowledge via her design and field experiences under the tutelage of senior colleagues.
Today Mathew works on several movable bridge projects in various phases of design and construction.
“My primary responsibility is to ensure the delivery of electrical design elements within budget and schedule,” says Mathew, who oversees the completeness and accuracy of the electrical teams’ work, and ensures project deliverables are met. She further provides technical guidance to the overall project team and clients on electrical design elements.
Since electrical engineering is a discipline that covers a broad scope of jobs and interests, Mathew believes advancements in technology and the desire for smarter, more intelligent systems will create a strong demand for a knowledgeable employee base capable of combining electrical engineering and information technology, including automation and data analytics.
Additionally she contends there will be continued focus on emergency preparedness, security and sustainability in the face of natural disasters.
Mathew enjoys the intensity and complexity of big-picture projects that come with their own unique set of challenges that require close interdisciplinary coordination.
“The fun part is working with the team to figure out how to make all of the pieces fit while meeting overall project goals,” she points out.
Mathew further advises those interested in her type of electrical engineering to be open to new experiences, to get out of their comfort zones and to be unafraid to ask questions. “Sometimes the best resources are those around you,” she concludes.
For additional information about HNTB, go to hntb.com/careers, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Williams Supports Power Station Projects in Her Senior Engineering Role at NRG
Now in her 12th year at Princeton, NJ-headquartered NRG, Tanesua Williams, PE is proud to work for a company dedicated to bringing the power of energy to people and organizations by putting customers first.
A Fortune 500 company operating in the U.S. and Canada, NRG generates electricity and provides energy solutions and natural gas to residential, business, commercial, and industrial customers. It further delivers innovative solutions and advocates for competitive energy markets and customer choice while working toward a sustainable energy future.
With a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, an MBA and a registered professional engineer (PE) certification, Williams finds that her early experiences as a plant electrical engineer, and later as a plant controls engineer, allowed her to hone her problem-solving skills while under pressure.
“I also benefitted from participating in a six-month, cross-training opportunity that expanded my overall power station knowledge,” she says.
Now, as a senior controls engineer in the engineering department, Williams supports the NRG power station capital and expense projects, and provides technical advice and troubleshooting assistance. She also travels, as needed, to stations throughout the U.S.
Williams was initially drawn to electrical engineering as a student when, at the time, it was a field with few women, and even less African-American females. “I wanted to contribute to improving the percentages and provide another face of electrical engineers,” she reveals.
Today her experience and background allow her to contribute even more. “What I love most about my work is that every day is different and unique - whether it involves various systems or people,“ she states.
Williams firmly believes that electrical engineering is an immensely important field that affects every aspect of life including technology development, the environment, and power generation. This puts electrical engineers on the forefront of finding solutions to current and future problems. As such, she feels the future of this sector is bright.
“Tomorrow’s electrical engineers will work to advance communication technology, upgrade power grids, improve automation and more,” she asserts.
In addition to the mandatory need for competence in math and science, Williams stresses the importance for those pursuing electrical engineering to demonstrate evidence of wanting to know “why not” and “what if.”
She advises accepting intern or co-op positions to garner actual experience, and taking the time to determine what area is the right fit.
“Seeking a mentor, too, can assist with navigating speed bumps along the way,” Williams additionally points out.
For more information about NRG, visit nrg.com/about/careers.html, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
Richardson & Her Team at FirstEnergy Focus on Modernizing the Electrical Grid
Dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence, Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy Corp. is comprised of 10 electric distribution companies, which together form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems. It serves 6 million customers in six states and supports 24,500-plus miles of transmission connecting the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.
FirstEnergy is also where Amanda Richardson, manager of engineering services, has spent 22 years of her professional career.
But before that Richardson earned a Bachelor of Arts in physics first, followed by a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
“Taking a required introductory circuits class for my physics degree sparked my interest in electrical engineering - so much so I opted to pursue that area,” she remembers.
“Professionally, my initial job as a field engineer at another energy company provided me with a solid foundation in electric distribution operations. Subsequent rotations in areas including IT and business services further allowed me to garner a wide variety of experiences that broadened my knowledge base and internal network.”
Today Richardson leads team of more than 100 employees across Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. She and her team are responsible for system reliability, capacity planning, new services for commercial and industrial customers, and regulatory and joint-use administration. “With the proliferation of electronics and ubiquity of the internet, society is more dependent than ever on electricity for daily living,” notes Richardson, adding that this has made the power engineering field more vital than ever.
“Our team now focuses on modernizing the electric grid and using advanced techniques to improve service reliability for our customers.”
Regarding the future of electrical engineering as a career, Richardson is certain there will be a continued call for electrical engineers.
“Progress and innovation in electrical grid systems and related equipment will be the subject of a major focus while capital investments in power distribution and transmission will facilitate a growing need for electrical engineers in my field,” she states.
She further asserts that the impact of ever-evolving technology on society will not only endure, but will also result in a sustained and on-going need for electrical engineers and technicians.
For those considering electrical engineering as a career, Richardson advises, “Be open to opportunities to increase your knowledge, even if it means taking assignments outside of traditional engineering or your comfort zone. While technical and engineering skills come first, interpersonal skills shouldn’t be ignored. As you move through your career, and into a role where you manage people, soft skills become more important.”
For more information about FirstEnergy, go to firstenergycorp.com/careers.html, firstenergycorp.com/newsroom/social_media.html, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.
Boeing’s Bowens Manages Engineering Support for the ISS
Chicago, IL-headquartered Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company, and the leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space, and security systems, and service provider of after-market support.
Boeing also supports the International Space Station (ISS), the space launch system (SLS) and the Starliner system that will restore U.S. access on an American-built spacecraft to the ISS and future low earth orbit destinations.
“Since 1993, Boeing has partnered with NASA to help design, build, integrate, and operate the ISS, which recently marked its 20th year in orbit and more than 18 years of continuous human habitation,” states Ebony Bowens, who has, for the past five years, been a part of all of this as valued team member.
In her current position as the International Space Station (ISS) electric power system (EPS) mission operations lead, Bowens is charged with managing tasks needed to provide real-time engineering support for ISS on-orbit anomalies and maintaining the overall health of the electrical power system by trending data.
When asked what experiences best prepared her for her current role, Bowens responds, “Each day I pull from my past educational and professional experiences to achieve success.”
Indeed, the Houston, TX-based electrical design engineer holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, and began as a Boeing product development intern.
She further recalls always being a curious person who loved math and science, but remembers a particular teacher inspiring her to pursue electrical engineering.
“In that class I had the opportunity to build a radio from scratch. Seeing something that I put together helped me identify what I wanted to do with my life,” she shares.
Today Bowens is also pleased to be a part of a new Space Center Houston/Boeing Girls STEM Pathway initiative dedicated to engaging girls with 21st-century skills to fuel their imaginations and provide authentic learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
“Together Boeing and Space Center Houston are committed to enabling underrepresented girls to pursue STEM careers and to realize their potential to become the next generation of explorers,” notes William T. Harris, president and CEO, Space Center Houston.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Space Center Houston to inspire the next generation of innovators to explore careers in STEM. As NASA prepares for a new age of space exploration, the focus on 21st-century skills and experiential learning will position Girls STEM Pathway participants for success,” adds Mike Lawson, senior manager, Boeing global engagement.
To those considering engineering or other STEM-related careers, Bowens urges them to strongly identify and consider what they enjoy - and to never give up.
Says Bowens: “I enjoy solving day-to-day problems. Helping people understand how things work and function gives me joy, as does continually expanding my own learning and working with an amazing team - their support, and our family-like environment - truly make coming to work each day an absolute joy.”
She further underscores the future opportunities in this discipline. “The growth in technology, and the tools developed as a result, I believe will advance electrical engineering every day,” Bowens asserts.
For more information about Boeing, go to jobs.boeing.com, boeing.mediaroom.com/social-media-center, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), 2% is the anticipated rate of growth for electrical and electronics engineering through 2028. Contrast this overall smaller percentage against OOH’s better growth percentage of 5% specifically for electrical engineers, which is on pace with the 5% growth projected for all engineers.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Electrifying Snapshot for 2020
Electrical engineering is another one of the traditional engineering fields that shows continued demand. Electrical engineering is a very broad field that includes power engineering, instrumentation engineering and electronic engineering, among others. The broad range of possible career paths within electrical engineering means that there will probably always be jobs available.
• Average Starting Salary: $67,000
• Average Mid-Level Salary: $82,000
• Average Late-Career Salary: $96,000
Electrical engineering is a broad field, and can be a basis for entering other engineering disciplines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical engineers typically design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products, develop manufacturing, construction and installation standards, direct the manufacturing, installation, and testing of electrical equipment, and manage the production of electrical projects to ensure work is completed well, on time, and within budget.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Electronic engineers receive the highest compensation for their work - surpassing software engineers - and those in the semiconductor industry “take home the largest paycheck.”
Source: EE Times
» Feedback for the Editor
» Request Article Copy