Macademics: Professional Engineering
Hey you guys! I'm back with another Macademics post. This month I'll be featuring Jada Davis who just got her Professional Engineer (PE) license. Jada was born and raised in Houston, Texas and attended the University of Pittsburgh on a full tuition scholarship where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. At the start of her career, she worked in Tampa, Florida at an Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) firm doing Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing design. Currently she works in Houston, Texas at a tax consulting firm, performing 3D energy analysis for her clients in order to help them earn tax deductions on their energy efficient building designs. Read on to learn more about how she became a Professional Engineer! (If you want to learn more about Mechanical Engineering, check out my Mechanical Engineering Macademics Post!
What made you decide to study mechanical engineering? Did you always want to study that?
I knew I always wanted to be an engineer, but when I went to college, I was still not sure which type I wanted to be. I pursued a Materials Science Engineering degree for the first 2 years, and later switched to mechanical engineering when I realized the classes peaked my interest. I liked heat transfer and thermodynamics more than molecular crystallization.
Can you describe what you do now?
Currently I am an engineer working at a tax consulting firm. Our clients are architects, engineers, and contractors who are eligible for a certain tax deduction if they contribute the design of energy efficient buildings. I take their construction drawings, create a 3D model, input the HVAC, lighting, and insulation information into our software, and run a simulation to analyze the energy cost savings. If our client meets a certain threshold, they can earn up to $1.80 per square foot in deductions.
You recently passed your professional engineering exam? What is that? Why did you decide to get it?
Yes, I passed the exam last October. It is the exam you have to take in order to get your professional engineering license. This license allows you to stamp official documents like construction drawings or field inspection certifications. Not all industries require this license for advancement, but I decided to get it because I am in the construction industry.
Can you describe your journey to becoming a professional engineer?
To become a professional engineer, you have to first take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam (which I encourage all engineers to do at the end of schooling before they graduate). After that, I took the PE exam in my concentration, which is HVAC. You must have four years of experience working under a PE, and complete an application that includes essays about working experience, an ethics exam, and a questionnaire.
What obstacles did you face during school or in your career? How did you overcome them?
In school, my classes were just very difficult classes. Because engineering is so broad, you may really only take a liking to 3-4 classes over the course of your time in school. This made it difficult to connect with the many other subjects a mechanical engineer must cover. I overcame this by being highly resourceful and finding YouTube videos or other online teaching resources to learn the material.
In my career, I still face the obstacle of being the only woman or the only black person in the room, especially now that I am in management. I overcome this by reading books by women who have been through similar experiences, and staying confident despite my differences.
Looking back, what's something you wish you did differently?
I wish I had made more professional connections in college. Getting the right position is all about who you know, and who knows you.
What's some of the best advice that you've received?
Your success is truly affected by your self-discipline. Set goals, make a plan, and conquer.
Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a Professional Engineer certificate or Engineering in general?
First, do the research take verify if the Professional Engineering License can really help you in your field. It may not be necessary. However, if you it is something you’re interested in, make sure your four years of experience are spent working under a P.E. and that you take good notes about the projects you are working on over the years. For engineering in general, I say JUST DO IT! Yes it is extremely difficult, but if you can handle the extensive math in pretty much every class, it is so worth it to have that degree now in the working world. That degree on your resume has a particular prestige, no matter what field you end up in.
Thank you, Jada! For letting me feature you! Congratulations on your license and I can't wait to see how your career takes off!