“Engineering is for men.” That’s what Ileana Loubriel heard as a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico. Because she liked math, she was encouraged to go into accounting instead.
But at her school’s career night, Loubriel met a female engineer.
“She worked in the chemical industry,” Loubriel remembered. “I was so interested in what she was saying. I thought that was kind of cool to enter an area where there are no women. I think that opened my eyes.”
Now, after working as an engineer for 29 years, including four at OUC, Loubriel shares her experiences in the trade:
Q: What is your typical day like?
Loubriel: I work system protection, basically working with the drawings and the settings of the relay. The relays are like the brain of the breaker. When there is a fault in the system —from lightning or an accident — I tell it when to open and what to open to isolate the fault. I make sure that the relays work when they need to. I’m mostly in the office, but when we’re installing new equipment or any techs are struggling with something, then I can go into the field.
Q: What do you like about being an engineer?
Loubriel: I have always liked the calculations and settings that some engineers don’t like. Some people like more the hands-on equipment, but I found that I like the studies and the planning. It’s more like the software not the hardware. It’s more knowing what I can do with my equipment.
Q: You’ve worked at several utilities. How does OUC compare?
Loubriel: I have worked at small companies and a very big company. At the big company, I was doing just a piece of the project. Here, we do a little bit of everything. We plan what we’re going to do, we do the scope, we buy the equipment, we design. I like that because I learn other things, not just my part. I can learn the whole line of production.
Q: What would encourage more people to go into engineering?
Loubriel: Girls need to see other women engineers talking about their experience and how they like it. That helps.
Q: What is the best professional advice you’ve received?
Loubriel: Volunteer for areas that people don’t like that much. Sometimes when you take something nobody wants, you learn the most.