Workforce Diversity For Engineering and IT Professionals Spring 2015 : Page 16

E l E C T R I C A l E N G I N E E R I N G ElEctRicAl EnginEERing THE PROmISE OF A BRIGHTER TOmORROw Dedicated electrical engineers not only light up today’s world, but also bring us a brighter tomorrow. they take on the global challenge of providing safe, cleaner energy and reliable and affordable energy products. Engineers at AREVA, general Motors, lockheed Martin, and pEcO share their experiences, shedding light on how to achieve success in this growing, exciting, and critical field. AREVA: OppORtunitiEs tO ExcEl engineering supervisor, Phil John helps to cultivate AREVA’s engineering workforce, overseeing project activities and developing proposals. In an earlier role as engineer, he developed modification packages that detailed the need for and installation of various equipment upgrades, repairs, and replacements at nuclear power plants throughout the US. “In the nuclear industry,” says John, “even the slightest change requires extensive documentation that clearly explains the reasons for the modification, and justification as to how the safety of the plant workers and the public is protected at all times.” John, who earned a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering in 2002 from the University of Florida, has worked at AREVA for 12 years. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, AREVA’s mission is to build tomorrow’s energy model by supplying ever safer, cleaner, and more economical energy to the greatest amount of people. Opportunities within the company offered John the experience and knowledge base to progress from engineer to engineering supervisor, including specialized training programs, conference attendance, and onsite work at nuclear power plants. “Additionally, I have always had a strong team of co-workers around me and mentors, supervisors, and managers who have supported and invested in my development,” he adds. AREVA also selected him to participate in a long-term delegation at its offices in Germany for two-and-a-half years. “This was an incredible opportunity that taught me to work through cultural differences and language barriers with co-workers from locations around the world,” John says. As spRing 2015 / 16/ WORKFORcE DiVERsitY L By Lois VidaVer

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

Lois Vidaver

THE PROMISE OF A BRIGHTER TOMORROW

Dedicated electrical engineers not only light up today’s world, but also bring us a brighter tomorrow. they take on the global challenge of providing safe, cleaner energy and reliable and affordable energy products. Engineers at AREVA, general Motors, lockheed Martin, and pEcO share their experiences, shedding light on how to achieve success in this growing, exciting, and critical field.

AREVA: OPPORTUNITIES TO EXCEL

As engineering supervisor, Phil John helps to cultivate AREVA’s engineering workforce, overseeing project activities and developing proposals. In an earlier role as engineer, he developed modification packages that detailed the need for and installation of various equipment upgrades, repairs, and replacements at nuclear power plants throughout the US.

“In the nuclear industry,” says John, “even the slightest change requires extensive documentation that clearly explains the reasons for the modification, and justification as to how the safety of the plant workers and the public is protected at all times.”

John, who earned a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering in 2002 from the University of Florida, has worked at AREVA for 12 years. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, AREVA’s mission is to build tomorrow’s energy model by supplying ever safer, cleaner, and more economical energy to the greatest amount of people.

Opportunities within the company offered John the experience and knowledge base to progress from engineer to engineering supervisor, including specialized training programs, conference attendance, and onsite work at nuclear power plants. “Additionally, I have always had a strong team of co-workers around me and mentors, supervisors, and managers who have supported and invested in my development,” he adds.

AREVA also selected him to participate in a long-term delegation at its offices in Germany for two-and-a-half years. “This was an incredible opportunity that taught me to work through cultural differences and language barriers with coworkers from locations around the world,” John says.

ELECTRICITY IS SO INTEGRAL TO OUR LIVES WE HARDLY THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL IT IS NOT AVAILABLE

John’s efforts on the FLEX project, which applies to multiple nuclear power plants, have been particularly satisfying. FLEX is a set of modifications that ensure the continued safety of US nuclear power plants by ensuring that emergency back-up power is available to keep vital plant systems running following worst-case disasters. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission developed these requirements following the Fukushima accident in Japan.

“Since these requirements are new to the industry, we can be creative in creating solutions to meet and exceed them. On one hand, you want to make sure that the equipment and plans are welldesigned, reliable, and effective, but on the other hand you hope that they will never have to be used in a real-life situation,” he says.

“When proposing or making changes to a nuclear plant, all possible effects and risks must be considered,” he adds. “Safety is of utmost importance in our industry, so whether you are preparing documentation or reviewing someone else’s work, a technically-sound, error-free final product is both expected and necessary.”

Not only will the plant review the documents, but they also may be examined by regulatory agencies. “As the modification packages are being developed, engineers are required to present and defend their approach during project milestone meetings,” acknowledges John. “Every nuance of the changes being made must be explained in the packages we prepare.”

Patience is a necessity in the industry. “The nuclear industry requires long lead times and extensive regulatory involvement.”

Mentors, John believes, are essential for career growth, possessing vital information and experiences that can help less-experienced individuals quickly come up to speed in unfamiliar areas. “I sometimes felt that no matter what I did I could never ‘catch up’ to my mentors,” he says. “I realized that the goal was never to become a clone of my mentors – they were investing in me so that I could be successful based on my own experiences on my own career path.”

What inspires him about his profession is the fact that “we all need electricity – it is so integral to our lives that we hardly even think about it until it is not available,” John says. “On top of that, working in the nuclear industry I am helping to maintain a significant lowemission power source that provides reliable electricity to our nation. In fact, nuclear energy generates 63 percent of our low-carbon electricity.”

PECO: CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO
Based in Philadelphia, PECO, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, is the largest electric and natural gas distribution company in Pennsylvania, serving more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 500,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. The company is committed to providing safe and reliable electric and natural gas service, and driving innovation to benefit its customers. PECO also is committed to the environment and supporting the communities it serves.

As part of the company’s engineering group, Harsha Jasti, senior project construction manager, identifies and designs necessary electric system upgrades to meet the needs of customers. “This includes building or upgrading substations and transmission and distribution lines,” he explains. “Our group manages the contractors who work on our system to ensure all construction activities are completed safely, on-schedule, and according to our engineers’ designs. We also work closely with both the project managers and contractors to make sure costs are managed, staying within budget limits.”

Spending his first two years of college at International School of Applied Sciences in Manipal, India, Jasti transferred to Drexel University in Philadelphia to complete his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Following graduation in 2007, he was hired by PECO as associate engineer, returning to Drexel University part-time in 2008 to earn his master’s in electrical engineering.

“PECO is dedicated to providing safe and reliable energy, and delivering innovation to benefit our customers,” Jasti says. Each year, he continues, PECO invests hundreds of millions of dollars to replace, repair, and upgrade its equipment and modernize its electric system to meet the needs of customers. Innovation, developing, and implementing new ideas are a priority, and “we’re encouraged to share our ideas, take risks, and challenge our traditional way of thinking.

“PECO, and our parent company Exelon, do a great job of supporting and enabling everyone to implement new ideas with the tools and opportunities we need,” he adds. “Tech-savvy young professionals have a lot to offer and gain from our industry. If you are willing to work hard and put in the time, there are a lot of opportunities to make an impact with your innovative ideas and leave your mark. If you are looking to make a difference, the utility industry is where you want to be.”

Jasti met his first mentor a few years back through PECO’s Developing Young Professionals Employee Resource Group, but he’s had several since. “The advice I give to a lot of the new engineers in our company is that you don’t have to ask someone to be your mentor,” says Jasti. “You don’t have to label your relationship as ‘mentormentee,’ and they don’t necessarily have to be managers, directors, or vice presidents. To me, a mentor is a good sounding-board, someone that is willing to offer you advice and honest feedback.”

A mentor can be a colleague, senior engineer, someone you look up to, or someone that shares a similar background or experience as you.

“The best advice I received from a mentor was to be open to receiving honest feedback and take action on the advice you receive,” Jasti remarks. “It is your job as a mentee to keep your mentor interested in your relationship. One way to do that is by showing them that you are acting on the feedback you receive.”

There are people at PECO, and within the industry, who have more than 30 and 40 years of experience, provide a wealth of knowledge, and are great to work with, acknowledges Jasti. They know the history of the system and every piece of equipment that’s in service, and “you are guaranteed to walk away learning something new every time you have a conversation with these experienced individuals,” he says. “During my time at PECO, I’ve never been turned down by someone when I approached them with a question.

“PECO is a great place to work,” Jasti adds. “It’s next to impossible to retain employees for so long unless you establish a great work environment. PECO and Exelon are committed to a set of strong core values that provide the foundation for a safe, challenging, and rewarding workplace.”

GENERAL MOTORS: EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS
Trista Schieffer

The electrification team at General Motors believes that plugin based vehicles will lead the industry in alternative propulsion in the long run. GM is committed to manufacturing 500,000 vehicles globally with some form of electrification annually by 2017.

Trista Schieffer, GM global lead development engineer – battery electric vehicles, is responsible for the integration of an electric vehicle’s parts and systems to meet or exceed the customer’s expectation as defined by GM’s vehicle specifications. “I helped bring the Spark EV to market and now my team and I are working on the production vehicle based on the Bolt EV concept vehicle,” she says.

Schieffer earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree in engineering from Purdue University.

She enjoys collaborating with the diverse group of people she finds at GM, be it varying ages, genders, races, technical backgrounds, and global work experiences. It allows diverse ideas to come together to approach issues and produce results that exceed one individual’s expectations, Schieffer says.

Mentors are critical for a successful career, she believes. “Mentors ask questions that provide insight and can point you in new and sometimes better directions.”

Seeking out a variety of mentors can help a person see their blind spots, challenge the mentee and increase the tools available to work through difficult situations. “Every person should also consider becoming a mentor,” she adds. “Sharing your experiences and growing through shared exper experiences is key in developing a topnotch team. Open and honest communication and sharing of information will only make the team stronger. Having one or a few people you truly trust to provide insight and guidance is invaluable.”

To those looking to build a career or change their career path, it’s worth noting the various career opportunities available in the auto industry. “I am a mechanical engineer who has had opportunities to work on civil engineering and electrical engineering projects and cross-functional systems,” Schieffer explains. “I am grateful for the opportunities to work on new technologies and features that make vehicles better for customers. Working in automotive engineering, every day is a new adventure. We solve problems that make a difference in the vehicle that are on the road.”

LOCKHEED MARTIN: THE SPIRIT OF INNOVATION
as program manager at Lockheed Martin, Charles Nwadi is responsible for leading a team of talented professionals in planning and executing maintenance availabilities for the Freedom variant of the Littoral Combat Ship. “This responsibility affords me the opportunity to manage cost, schedule, and technical performance as well as to grow professionally,” he says.

Lockheed Martin solves complex challenges, advances scientific discovery, and delivers innovative solutions to help its customers keep people safe and provide them essential services.

Nwadi started his career at the company as associate systems engineer, with more experienced Lockheed Martin engineers mentoring and challenging him, assigning him increasingly challenging projects –from requirement analysis on Vertical Launch System to performing fault tree analysis on circuit cards. After gaining more experience and demonstrating sound judgment, Nwadi was selected for the Advanced Technical Leadership Program, where he went on to work on other projects of greater impact for Lockheed Martin’s future. “I was able to work on multiple programs on a rotational basis, which allowed me to experience diverse perspectives on the challenges faced by other programs. I was also able to witness first hand the innovative ideas that delivered results to our customers in spite of such challenges,” he recalls.

“All of my projects at Lockheed Martin have truly been satisfying,” Nwadi says, but his effort as a market research analyst at corporate headquarters ranks at the top of the list, giving him a different perspective of his company’s business. As an analyst, he had insight into potential growth sectors and learned how to harness these growth areas into addressable markets for Lockheed Martin.

For someone contemplating a similar career path, three key pieces of advice are vital, says Nwadi: “Bring with you a load of contagious enthusiasm; be focused and quick to learn from others; and above all, embrace the Lockheed Martin values.”

Embracing the company’s core values is key to success at Lockheed Martin. “A person really needs to embody our values: do what’s right, respect others, and perform with excellence. If people embrace our values, they’re setting the foundation for long-term career success,” Nwadi states.

“If you have the opportunity to work in a corporation like Lockheed Martin,” he adds, “it is critical that you have an agile but focused career plan. Quickly learn your strengths and let them be seen with humility, manage your areas of improvement, and remember that the best asset on your journey will be the relationships that you build.”

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/ELECTRICAL+ENGINEERING/2049515/264743/article.html.

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