As a former senior vice president at Southland Industries, Dave Peters was one of Southland’s greatest contributors — not only with his technical innovations, but also his passion for recruiting talented engineering students. After Dave passed away in 2011, the ASHRAE David C.J. Peters Scholarship was created to honor his accomplishments and dedication to rising young engineers. For several years, this scholarship has been awarded to some of the industry’s most promising engineering students.
This year’s scholarship winner is Isabella Gayoso. Isabella is a second-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student at The Pennsylvania State University.
How did you become interested in this industry?
[IG] For my senior project in high school, I chose to shadow a company in my hometown of Pittsburgh that specialized in HVAC and electrical systems. While shadowing, they let me use their software and taught me step-by-step how and why they were doing something and the impact it had. From that experience, I thought it was a cool industry and I wanted to be a part of it, so I explored it more when I got to college.
What activities and/or associations are you involved in at school?
[IG] I’m involved with: Society of Women Engineers, where I’m the Director of Engagement, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Engineering Ambassadors, and Phi Sigma Rho which is the engineering sorority on campus.
What are your favorite hobbies outside of school?
[IG] I really enjoy being outside I’m into rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. Pennsylvania has a lot of great state parks and I have been hiking a lot this semester.
In order to execute a project, being able to communicate ideas to other engineers and people who may not be as familiar with the industry is key.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Dream job?
[IG] I’m very interested in the exploration of space. I know that the space program is advancing and attempting to land on Mars to see if there is a chance for human inhabitants. If the space program has matured in 10 years, I want to combine my interests and passions for HVAC design and space and create a livable Mars habitat. Although HVAC is something that is behind the scenes, it would play a significant role in its success.
Whom do you admire? Engineering role model or feat?
[IG] My dad is an aerospace engineer. He knew from an early age that he wanted to work with planes and fly them. He and my mom are both from Venezuela and knew there weren’t many aerospace opportunities available to him there, so they moved to the United States where he achieved his dream of becoming an airline pilot. He is just a really cool person and has so many different hobbies and he also speaks Spanish, English, and German.
What is the first thing you ever designed?
[IG] When I was a kid, I really wanted a treehouse, but my parents shot down the idea. My parents compromised with me and said since I couldn’t have a treehouse, they would let me have a tree swing. I went online and found articles about designing a swing and the exact measurements of rope and what type of wood to use for a seat. My parents took me to the hardware store to buy my supplies. I cut the rope, marked on the tree where I was going to put it and designed it myself. I was 10 and we still have the swing.
How would you like to contribute, shape or change this industry?
[IG] I would like to make HVAC systems more efficient and reduce negative environmental impacts. It’s important for engineers to consider sustainability and what we’re doing and how it will affect the future.
What has excited you most about being a Mechanical Engineer major?
[IG] Mechanical engineering has really opened my eyes to see how many ways you can make an impact on this industry and the environment. I like that the industry is so broad and there are so many different avenues I can take after college.
It is important for engineers to consider sustainability and what we’re doing now, and how it will affect the future.”
What skills would you say are most important for an engineer?
[IG] Communication is huge, and I think people forget that in this industry. In order to execute a project, being able to communicate ideas to other engineers and people who may not be as familiar with the industry is key. You want people to be able to understand what you’re talking about especially in terms of technical information. You shouldn’t put your head down when you have an idea, you should always try and explain it the best way you can so others can at least understand your point of view. I also think public speaking is an integral trait for engineers to acquire.
What new engineering skill have you acquired in the last year?
[IG] This past year, I worked in a quality engineering internship. I saw firsthand how important quality assurance is in the industry because you have to make sure the part is designed and manufactured correctly. Additionally, the internship opened my eyes to how transferrable the skill is.