Meet six women making their mark in a male-dominated field and working to engage more women and girls in engineering
Though engineering has long been considered a man’s field, women engineers across the EFH family of companies are doing their part to change that perception. These women are increasingly filling roles critical to powering Texas and encouraging a new generation of girls to follow their lead.
“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.” That’s the witty, yet sage advice that Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant’s Lauren Neuburger gives to anyone considering an engineering career. “It’s a big challenge, but the personal reward is completely worth it when you look back and see tangible results of all the good work you’ve done,” the mechanical and nuclear design engineer says. “I’ve always liked the idea of applying creativity to functional pursuits that could potentially help people. Providing Texas with clean, green, safe nuclear energy is what keeps me interested and invested in my engineering work at Comanche Peak.”
Colleague Lily Raabe credits a high school debate on alternative energy sources with fueling her fire for engineering: “The research convinced me that nuclear energy has a role to play in our future energy portfolio. As I learned more about, and later experienced firsthand, the nuclear industry, I became more and more impressed, especially by qualities like the nuclear safety culture and redundancies in design of plant safety systems.” Raabe worked three summer internships at Comanche Peak prior to her full-time role with the core performance engineering team, which monitors parameters of the reactor core, performs inspections and participates in fueling processes.
Both Neuburger and Raabe cite Luminant’s many successful women engineers as role models who motivate their eagerness to learn and make a difference in the primarily male-dominated field.
“The only person who can prevent you from being an engineer is you. Use any negatives you receive along the way to fuel your fire, to motivate you to prove them wrong,” says Brittany Bockstanz, instrumentation and control systems engineer with 10 years of experience. She spends her day designing and troubleshooting the systems that control Luminant’s power plants. “This is the first job I’ve had where I wasn’t the only female engineer in the company. I’ve gotten more encouragement from upper management and am empowered to grow and advance here.”
Katharine Ladd’s dad steered her into engineering, but the “challenging and rewarding field” has her hooked. “No project is ever the same, which keeps it interesting,” says Ladd, an operations optimization engineer at Three Oaks Mine. “There is so much you can do with an engineering degree. Even at Luminant, engineers across the company hold a wide variety of roles.”
With 14 years of engineering under her hard hat, Razen Thomas’ advice to make a career out of a personal interest comes directly from experience. As a kid adept at building and racing go-carts and motorcycles, Razen transferred those technical skills into an engineering career maintaining equipment at Oak Grove Power Plant. “Try different opportunities and internships,” she says, “and balance your left brain activities with some creative interests, either professionally or personally.”
“We need more engineers in this country, and it’s a good profession,” says Annie Evans, who is responsible for delivering coal from Three Oaks Mine to nearby Sandow Power Plant. She discovered engineering with the help of a college counselor. “It’s interesting and challenging work.”