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Diverse Voices, Innovative Solutions: National Engineers Week Special

  • Written by Lonny Peet
  • February 19, 2024
Female engineer checking HVAC

This week, we’re celebrating the expertise and acumen of our engineers as we celebrate National Engineers Week. This annual event, initiated in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, aims to honor engineers' contributions to society and underscore the significance of engineering across various fields. The week was established to enhance public awareness of the engineering profession and its profound impact on daily life. Within the realm of engineering, energy engineers play a vital role in shaping the future of energy by creating sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly solutions to meet the world's growing energy demands.  

This year’s theme, “Welcome to the Future,” is about celebrating today’s achievements and paving the way for a brighter and more diverse future in engineering. This theme holds particular significance for us at RI, reflecting our dedication to fostering innovation, inclusivity, and excellence. 

Importance of Diversity 

Studies consistently show that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones, bringing unique solutions to the table. There are many benefits a diverse workforce brings to an organization, including innovation, creativity, and a broader perspective that can lead to enhanced problem-solving. A diverse workforce is also more adept at understanding and meeting the needs of a diverse customer base, enhancing customer satisfaction and market reach.  

Despite some progress in recent years, the engineering sector continues to grapple with diversity challenges. Historically, the industry has been male-dominated, resulting in significant underrepresentation of women and minority groups. Efforts to address this imbalance are ongoing, aiming to create a more inclusive and equitable environment within the engineering field.  

Zippa's research reveals that there are currently more than 228,911 engineers employed in the United States. The average age of employed engineers is 40 years old. Within this workforce, women constitute only 13.7%, while men make up the majority at 86.3%. Examining the ethnic composition, White engineers comprise 67.9% of the workforce, Asian engineers follow at 15.0%, and Hispanic or Latino engineers account for 9.1%, while Black or African American engineers represent 3.3%. 

Paving the Way for a Brighter Future 

As a women-founded and women-led company, we have a sustained commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is not just a buzzword to us; it's a driving force that propels innovation, fosters creativity, and ensures a holistic approach to problem solving. It's not just about meeting quotas; it's about unlocking the potential and embracing the strengths that diversity brings. 

RI’s diverse team of engineers, with 43% representing minority ethnic groups, serves in various capacities to provide innovative programs and technical services to utilities and end-use clients.

Engineers Week 2024

Meet Candice Norton, whose work helps business owners make their building more energy efficient. As an Energy Engineer, she has performed more than 350 ASHRAE Level I, II, and III energy audits to identify energy efficiency measures.  

“The highlight of my job is revealing our findings to clients, spotlighting potential utility rebates and the annual savings they could achieve on their bills by implementing our recommendations. I believe my work not only benefits business owners but also contributes to making the world a greener, more sustainable place, one building, kWh, and/or therm at a time!”

Sophie Milne works with our custom projects for multiple utility clients. Her diverse skill set includes cost analysis, incentive evaluation, and proficiency in engineering calculation tools.  

"One of the things I love most about being an engineer is helping promote new technology that helps save energy and save the customer money. Working on projects such as heat cable and snow melt controls helps save significant demand and 1000’s of hours of energy that helps to maintain the integrity of buildings and keeps people safe. I feel proud to work on projects and for a company that aligns with sustainable energy and environmentalism." 

Meet Jie McAtee, an energy engineer with the retro-commissioning (RCx) team whose work in the analysis of operational data has revolutionized the way we approach the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in analyzing building performance and predicting energy usage.  

“Despite its relatively recent introduction, we embrace the opportunities presented by AI. I am currently involved in a project that integrates AI technology into the retro-commissioning and building systems optimization process to identify energy savings in buildings. I believe that this pioneering approach will lead to improved building performance, unlocking significant energy-saving potential. I am very proud that my work can contribute to the decarbonization of buildings and the global effort to conserve energy.”   

Sanjyot Varade, works on our Small Business team on a Midwest program that has grown multi-fold in the past 4-years. The team strives to introduce new engineering approaches, foster collaboration with diverse internal teams and external stakeholders, and ultimately amplify the positive effects of this offering on thousands of small businesses. These efforts align with all four of RI pillars – climate change, equity, innovation, and scale and impact.  

“I appreciate the constantly evolving nature of the energy efficiency field, and the opportunities to work alongside a diverse group of people who are just as passionate about creating positive impacts. There are always new approaches and technologies emerging that my team and I can explore and incorporate into our programs, which keeps the work interesting and allows us to continually improve our results. As we strive to develop more innovative and complex measures, distinctiveness of thought and perspective will be essential in creative and effective problem-solving.” 

National Engineers Week not only serves as a timely reminder of the incredible achievements of engineers, but it also provides the perfect platform to champion a more diverse and inclusive engineering landscape. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies, let us collectively champion a future where engineering (and our industry as a whole) thrives on the strength of its diversity, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive, and innovative tomorrow.