Reef Industries

WiP Member Emma Burke Shares Her Motivation for PES and WiP

IEEE PES WiP is impacting the lives of young engineers throughout the world.  Emma Burke, a new WiP member and a graduate of Northeastern University, Boston, USA shares her motivation for PES and WiP:

“Growing up in Buffalo, NY, the only time I really thought about power is when it went out during a classic Buffalo snowstorm, so I never expected my first job out of college to be working for an electric utility company. In high school, I developed an interest in chemistry thanks to my AP Chemistry teacher (shout out to Dr. English), but I also loved solving problems and all things math and science. This led me to pursue Chemical Engineering as my undergraduate major. In 2015, I moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University.

Northeastern is known for including multiple six-month co-ops in the curriculum schedules for all students. Within chemical engineering, I always leaned more towards the hands-on, wet lab, chemical analysis part of the field. My first co-op was a chemist position at Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI where I developed and tested new formulas for children’s modeling compound. My second co-op was an Electrochemical R&D position with Form Energy in Somerville, MA working on developing grid-scale energy storage. Working for Form Energy introduced me to the power industry, the innovation going on within it, and the opportunities for a Chemical Engineer to have an impact.

I completed my B.S. in Chemical Engineering in May 2019 and started working at National Grid in June. I joined National Grid as a member of the Graduate Development Program and traveled around our service territories for eight weeks before starting my full-time position with Transmission Network Technology Deployment. As a member of this team, I’ll be working on deploying new technologies to improve efficiency and lessen environmental impact. On my second day of work, I joined IEEE and PES and on my sixth day of work, I attended the PES General Meeting in Atlanta. I’m thankful for this opportunity to join this community so early in my career and that National Grid encourages me to seek out external developmental and networking events. I’m excited to be a part of the innovation happening at National Grid right now and make a difference in the lives of our customers.

Outside of my love for chemistry, engineering, and energy, I am an outspoken advocate for women, especially in typically male-dominated careers and spaces. The majority of my free time in college was spent being a mentor for and participating on the e-board of Strong Women, Strong Girls. SWSG is a curriculum-based mentoring program in Boston and Pittsburgh universities where college-aged women meet weekly with 3rd to 5th grade girls in schools to learn about strong women and girl role models. Beyond making lifelong friends and connections through this program, I also developed key leadership skills, improved my emotional intelligence, and am more sensitive and appreciative of those around me. As I continue in my career, I want to use these skills to advocate for the women around me and help to advance women in STEM majors and fields. Joining and volunteering with Women in Power is an important part of this effort. I believe conversations about inclusion and diversity shouldn’t be limited to spaces specifically designated for those conversations. Real change happens when everyone involved works for it.”

Sainab Taiwo Ninalowo
Past Chair, Women in Power