Women in Power Generation Talk About Why They Love Their Careers

In this supplement to the June 2015 issue of POWER, women in a variety of roles across the power sector comment on why they love their careers in a field where women remain a small minority.

Platte River Power Authority owns and operates the Rawhide Energy Station north of Fort Collins, Colorado. Several women from that plant were featured in our June issue.

At the top of this piece is Plant Operator Dana Belinski. She said, “After 27 years at the Rawhide Energy Station, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make this my career. I work with a great group of people and a caring company.”

Gale McGaha Miller, Plant Chemistry Supervisor, Rawhide
Energy Station

“I’ve been interested in water purification since sixth grade, and high-quality boiler makeup water is essential for fossil units. It feels great to provide all the water treatment needs for the Rawhide Energy Station, one of the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power plants in the nation, if not the world.”Courtesy: Platte River Power Authority

Dawn Miller, Plant Buyer, Rawhide Energy Station

“I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work for Platte River Power Authority at the Rawhide Energy Station. What a very productive work place with great work/life balance. I find that working here is very interesting and rewarding. You couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.”Courtesy: Platte River Power Authority

Natalie Parson, Occupational Health & Safety Specialist,
Rawhide Energy Station

“What we do here every day provides so many opportunities for people in their daily lives—the power we provide is so important to how we all live. I work with wonderful people and am glad to be a part of keeping them safe, so they can go home to their families at the end of the day.”Courtesy: Platte River Power Authority

Women also support the power industry in a wide variety of engineering, equipment, and services companies. Here are just a few.

Sara McMurray, Materials Scientist for ADA Carbon Solutions

“I like working in the power industry because I feel that the work is relevant, important, that I have a positive impact, and the job engages a very diverse skill set.”Courtesy: Sara McMurray
These women, who work for Burns & McDonnell, submitted a group shot. Their individual comments (left to right) follow.Courtesy: Burns & McDonnell

Kristin Glikbarg, Associate Process Engineer, Burns &
McDonnell Energy Division

“Energy is vital to our way of life. Air pollution control
and water and wastewater treatment for power stations is increasingly essential for power production. I’ve worked on design of these systems through all phases, from plant water balance development through start-up and commissioning. Each day and each job brings a new challenge where I get to solve large-scale problems and develop solutions that have a real-world impact.”

Stephanie Villarreal (Kaphingst), Development/Mechanical
Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

“I work in the power industry because it is a complex
industry that offers many challenges and opportunities to grow and learn. Power is a basic need of modern day life and it builds the foundation of future economic growth and development. Our growing electrical demands need to be satisfied by accommodating new environmental restrictions and balancing new fossil fuel
generation with renewable resource generation—all while keeping in mind future power resources for generations to come. It is exciting to be a part of an industry that has complex challenges ahead, but this is what drives me to help make our clients successful every day.”

Patricia Scroggin, PE, Sr. Water/Wastewater Treatment
Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

“I work on providing clean power and environmentally
friendly solutions for some of the most complicated water and wastewater streams produced in the power generation industry. Each day I have the opportunity to work with equipment suppliers, end users and engineering teams to create an amazing end product for our clients. I love the challenges and
experiences each day.”

Rebecca Howe, PE, Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Burns &

“As an engineering service provider I work hand in hand with
our clients to make sure we understand the goals they have for their projects from both a short-term and long-term perspective. The one-on-one interaction pushes you to think outside the box and find engineering solutions that will not only make them successful but that also are safe, environmentally friendly,
cost effective, and can be justified to the end user. To be able to deliver a project from start to finish that meets all those goals is such a rewarding experience.”

Sarah Darmitzel, PE, Sr. Structural Engineer, Burns &

“I have nearly nine years’ experience as a structural
engineer in the Energy division since graduating in 2006 from Mizzou with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I obtained my Master's in Civil Engineering in 2012 from University of Kansas while working. I specialize in steel and concrete design for coal, natural gas, and nuclear power generating facilities, including dynamic machine foundations. I have been a part of small and large power plant
projects from formation through construction to operation. Outside of work, I enjoy being active in my community, playing sports, exploring life with my family, and flying.”

April Smith, Electrical Engineer, Telecom & Network
Engineering, Burns & McDonnell

“Energy is vital in our society, and our society is changing—becoming more industrialized as technology develops. As a telecommunications engineer in the power industry, I get to help the industry adapt to these changes with smart grid technology. It’s challenging and very exciting to work on projects that will help make the electric grid more efficient and reliable.”

Janel Junkersfeld, PE, Senior Chemical Engineer, Burns &

Janel has served as an engineering manager and development
engineer for a variety of power projects. Throughout her career, she has enjoyed the versatility her engineering degree has offered her and the ability to work on the latest and greatest technologies. She has experience with project development, equipment and system design, project engineering management, as well as engineering representation on various project sites. She has been associated with various projects, including natural gas combined cycle, air quality control upgrades for coal, water treatment and next-generation water treatment, gasification, and ethanol production.

Taylor Ronnei, Assistant Electrical Engineer in
Telecommunications, Burns & McDonnell

“I am proud to say I am a third-generation electrical engineer! Both my grandfather and father are electrical engineers, and my sister will graduate with her EE degree in the spring of 2016—you can say it’s in our genes. I always knew that when I grew up, I wanted a career in helping others. At first this only looked like becoming a doctor, until I learned more about what engineering is— specifically power engineering. It became clear to me that I could better peoples’ lives in the power industry. Power engineers help people every day!”Courtesy: Burns & McDonnell

BriAnna Chavez, Civil Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

BriAnna has been with Burns & McDonnell since 2007 and has served in numerous capacities, including design, construction, and field engineering. She started in underground transmission design and transferred to construction and field engineering in 2010. She is currently a lead field engineer for the first 500-kV line to be installed underground in the United States.Courtesy: Burns & McDonnell

Flor Rivas, Power Plant Product Manager, and Valika Wan, HA Lifecycle Product Manager, GE

Flor Rivas said, “I love the complexity of the industry and technology. I have no single day that goes by where I did not learn something new. Challenges keep evolving (market, regulations, technology), and every region of the world is different. Never a chance to get bored.”Courtesy: GE

For more on women in the power industry, see these June 2015 cover stories: 
"Women Are Essential to a Thriving Power Generation Sector"
"POWER's 2015 Women in Power Generation Survey"
"Resources for Women in Power Generation"

Posted June 26, 2015

By Gail Reitenbach, PhD, Editor

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