Why did I become an engineer? My answer to this question has evolved over the years. When I was in high school, and it came time to choose a major for college, I chose engineering because I was good at math and science. It’s also a very familiar path to me. My grandfather and uncles are engineers, my parents and older sister are computer programmers, my twin sister is also now an electrical engineer, and my brother is a mechanical engineering student. Clearly, engineering runs in the family.

As I entered Penn State, I chose architectural engineering specifically because it seemed like a combination of math, science, and art, which I also had an interest in, and I wanted to have a career that allowed me to express my creativity.

The lighting and electrical option within the school of architectural engineering meant the perfect blend of artistic and technical design. However, throughout my graduate studies and professional career, I’ve come to find that there is so much creativity in all aspects of building design, and it’s not just about being good at math and science. When it comes down to it, it’s more than checking off boxes and following the codes; it’s about interpreting each individual design and optimizing your specific piece of the design to integrate with the rest of the building systems and architecture.

If I were asked today why I became a lighting/electrical design engineer, I would say that I know I’ve chosen the right path. I enjoy this career that I’ve chosen because I am working towards creating innovative solutions. I find it incredibly rewarding to conquer each challenge presented to me. As technology and time create a consistently evolving built environment, I’m given the opportunity to create a product that has a great effect on the future inhabitants and users of the facilities we create, and that has made all the difference.

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  • Jessica Smith

    Electrical Design Engineer

    As an electrical design engineer in Southland’s Mid-Atlantic office, Jessica Smith works on innovative and resilient design for building electrical and lighting systems. Her project experience at Southland is in the mission critical sector.

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