International Women in Engineering Day recognizes women who have broken barriers in what has long been a traditionally male-dominated profession. The celebration highlights how diversity, equity, and inclusion allow for the sharing of unique perspectives that are essential for driving innovation and honors the trailblazing achievements of women engineers like Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer. This legacy inspires the next generation of female engineers who will help shape a more sustainable and resilient tomorrow.
Working as a woman engineer today, SoCalGas’ Hydrogen Engineering Team Lead, Jennifer Medina, shares insights and advice for young women considering this profession.
What is your role at SoCalGas?
“I am the Hydrogen Engineering Team Lead. I lead a team of engineers who are responsible for the design and safety evaluation of various hydrogen and hydrogen blending projects that SoCalGas is taking on as part of our Aspire 2045 sustainability strategy. This strategy includes accelerating the transition to clean energy and increasing its accessibility and affordability. A project that we recently completed is our [H2] Innovation Experience, North America’s first-ever clean hydrogen powered microgrid and home. Located in the city of Downey, this project showcases how hydrogen can support a move towards cleaner energy and how it is something that is possible today, not just a dream for the future. It features clean hydrogen production and storage for an approximately 2,000 square-foot home that can draw power from solar panels and convert excess renewable energy into clean hydrogen. I believe that a lot of what we are learning from this project will shape the energy infrastructure of not just California, but the nation.”
Describe a typical day at work.
“Throughout my nearly twelve-year career at SoCalGas, I can say that I’ve never really had what someone would call a typical day at the office. Early in my career, I would visit different field locations to collect data which turned into field visits where I supported the implementation of new equipment. Now when I am onsite, I oversee the operations and maintenance of the [H2] Innovation Experience’s hydrogen microgrid. When I am working from my home office, between meetings, I prioritize design reviews of new projects and read through industry safety standards. My full range of duties include everything from changing out filters to testing operational parameters to giving tours of our facility.”
Why did you choose a career in engineering?
“I was one of the first kids in my dad’s family to go to college. I felt like my dream of becoming an engineer was outside the norm, but it was a dream I knew was possible with hard work. As a high school junior, I had an amazing chemistry teacher who made me fall in love with chemistry. Now I cannot say that I was always great at math, but there was something about math that I enjoyed enough to work at it. It was my brother-in-law who worked for a chemical company who suggested I marry both math and chemistry and try my hand at chemical engineering! It took five years, but I could not have been prouder when I finally received my bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach.”
Any advice for girls/women considering a career in engineering?
“I always like to tell aspiring engineers that there are two things that have greatly helped me in my career; the first is to not be afraid to ask questions. It is never foolish to ask questions. It is foolish to assume that you will just stumble upon the right answer. My second piece of advice, get out in the field as often as possible. As engineers, we sometimes get stuck in an office looking over designs and data. Getting to see the designs you’ve worked on in the field brings everything full circle and helps teach you how the real world doesn’t always provide ideal situations."
Any concluding thoughts?
“International Women in Engineering Day is important because it signifies how far we have come! The future is no longer just an idea, but it’s something that is here today!”
SoCalGas is committed to supporting and celebrating the diversity of its workforce and the neighborhoods it serves and creating more resilient communities. Read more about how the company is growing its representation of women in leadership and overall workforce at socalgas.com/aspire2045.