May 2019

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Stephanie MorrisonEMAIL INTERVIEW – Stephanie Morrison and Ken Sinclair

Stephanie Morrison, Energy Efficiency Engineer, SES Consulting

Stephanie is an energy efficiency engineer at SES Consulting. Her work entails performing energy audits and working with clients to make their buildings more energy efficient and sustainable. This involves a combination of project management and technical design. She enjoys working at SES as it allows her to make a positive impact while working in a fast paced and challenging environment that ensures she is constantly learning. 

She has Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and has worked in many industries and areas of engineering throughout her career trying to find something that fit her interests and skill set.  Some of her experience includes mechanical and software design, oil and gas, biomedical research and project management. She also has her teaching certificate and has worked as a both a teacher and a course developer. She discovered her passion for sustainable building design through her involvement in ASHRAE and has been working in the industry ever since. She is also student activities chair at ASHRAE which allows her to work with students and new graduates to teach them about the industry and pass on some of the things she’s learned along the way.

Job Crafting Unleashes New Engineering Talent

Eventually a job came around that combined all of my passions and allowed me to work in an industry where I felt like I was truly making a difference.

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Sinclair:  Engineering is of course still quite a male-dominated industry. Is there an advantage to being one of a few women in the industry? What is a disadvantage to being one of a few women in the industry?

Morrison:  In university, most of my friends were engineers meaning most of them were male, so I got used to being one of the few girls (if not the only girl) in the group. I find that’s the same in the office now and I don’t mind it. Sometimes it’s even fun because when you’re the only one people tend to remember you.

A disadvantage is sometimes I don’t get taken seriously. This is likely a combination of the fact that I look young and that I’m often the only woman, but I’ve learned not to let it bother me. Eventually, if you know what you’re talking about people come around, and then it means that much more because you’ve earned their respect.

Sinclair:  Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer?

Morrison:  No definitely not, I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do.

When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher, but when I got to high school, I had an amazing physics teacher who ignited my passion for Physics and Math and encouraged me to go into engineering.   I enjoyed school, but during my co-ops and even after I graduated, I struggled to find an area of engineering that fit my interests and skills. I tried many different types of engineering including research and development, design and even some software and electrical, but nothing felt like a good fit. I found I was either working alone and missing social interactions or was managing projects that I didn’t get a chance to understand and wasn’t passionate about. After graduation, I worked in oil and gas for a while but was feeling uninspired with the work and the impact I was making so eventually I decided to go back to school to get a teaching certificate.

I enjoyed teaching because it allowed me to make a positive impact, organize and manage things that interested me and talk to people all day, but I still missed engineering. Eventually, a job came around that combined all of my passions and allowed me to work in an industry where I felt like I was truly making a difference. I’m sure I’ll change my mind a few more times about what I want to do, but I’m pretty happy with where I am now.

Sinclair:  What would you say to girls considering engineering as a profession?

Morrison:  I would say engineering is so much more than sitting alone at a desk designing brackets and gearboxes. There are so many types of engineering that it may take a while to find your niche, but stick with it, you’ll find it.  I struggled for so long to find my niche in engineering because I wasn’t particularly strong at design and I didn’t want to work at a desk all by myself all day. After a bit of a windy journey, I found a good fit where I get to do technical engineering work related to topics that interest me like fluids and thermodynamics, and I get to talk to people. Engineering is a really broad profession so don’t get stuck assuming there is only one way to be an engineer.

Sinclair:  What do you like most about your job?

Morrison:  I like that it is never the same. One day I’ll do purely project management work where I’m on the phone all day or meeting with clients. The next day I’ll be doing a site visit and the next I’ll be doing analysis for an energy study. Although there are parts that I enjoy more than others, it’s always nice to have variety. It keeps working exciting because you’re always learning something new.

Sinclair:  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Morrison:  Right now, most of my spare time is devoted to being student activities chair at ASHRAE.  Although it’s been a fair bit of work, I really enjoy being part of it because it allows me to learn about the industry and meet really interesting people. Getting involved in technical associations is a great way to learn about what types of jobs are available in your profession. ASHRAE is how I discovered the HVAC industry and learned about my current company. I’ve also been doing a fair bit of camping. My partner and I just finished redoing our old truck camper. We even have a solar panel so we can sustainably camp!

Interviewers Notes "Job Crafting" and more about Building Emotion.

As you can see above Stephanie is a talented engineer who draws on a range of skills in an interdisciplinary position that helps her to be very effective in her role. We feel that her skills of blending the soft, hard stuff, and people as a process in our industry are skills that resonate for some female engineers. Our industry needs this combination but mostly the people skills.

This interview is a call to all young women and men to join our Global Automated Building industry and combine all of their passions to work in an industry where you will truly make a difference.

Our contributing Editor the President of SES Brad White and I pitched the concept of Building Emotion at AHRExpo in Atlanta this year.

Stephanie's ability to job craft with passion fits Exploring Our Human Connection theme very well.

This new building science is very touchy-feely and needs to be taught by a teacher, a human engineer with empathy if this sounds like you, look at filling the many jobs now available in our industry.

In Human Engineering, people are the processes that are engineered into better outcomes.

We are pleased to present Stephanie as an example of the new thought of the younger people and passion we need to introduce into our industry.


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