Name: Emma Power
Occupation: Climate Change Mitigation Coordinator
Employer: Fundamental Inc.
Education: Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) – Mechanical (Thermo-Fluids) – Memorial University of Newfoundland
What does your typical workday involve?
I work remotely – from home in NL usually, but I can also work from anywhere in the world if I wanted to. Occasionally I have in-person meetings, workshops, conferences, or site visits, but usually we conduct everything online. I work very independently. I more or less set my own schedule and organize my own tasks. It is a small company – only three of us – but we touch base via phone, video conference, or messaging most days. My main roles include calculating greenhouse gas emissions and planning and implementing climate action projects with clients.
What do you most love about your profession? Why did you choose this career?
What I’m doing now in my job is not what most would consider typical for a mechanical engineering grad – I’m not working with equipment or designing machines – but I apply my engineering knowledge and skills nonetheless. I am where I hoped I would be – using science, math, critical thinking and creativity to initiate changes that protect our future. Engineers solve problems, and the climate crisis is quite a large one. I knew from the beginning that this is the field I wanted to contribute to. Feeling like my work has purpose and will make a difference is the best part.
When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?
I can’t remember an “ah-ha” moment, as such. My childhood dreams were quite varied – from singer to teacher to artist to chef – but doctor stuck for a while. Doctor turned into pathologist, that turned into biologist, then engineering came to mind. My transition from medicine to engineering was largely due to the realization that I really wasn’t a people person. Not that engineering doesn’t involve working with people, everything does, but you can get away with far less interaction - usually you don’t have to touch anyone. Engineering combined the science and math that I knew I liked with an intuitive and creative side. Plus I saw it as a pathway toward fighting climate change.
What were your favorite subjects in school?
The sciences – Physics, Chemistry, Biology.
Learning to sew in Clothing and Textiles was highly underrated.
But honestly, I spent most of high school sorting through compost bins.
What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?
Engineering is not just building bridges, it is foundation of all technology – the phone in your hand, the lights over your head, the water in your pipes. It is related to health, to the environment, to how societies function. It can lead you in any direction you wish. The schooling is challenging, be prepared for that and get used to studying, but it is also very rewarding. And MUN’s co-op program is great – the more varied experiences you have, the better. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?
My class was probably 75% male. I didn’t mind it much – I was too focused to really notice. I think that it’s important to have representation of all genders in all sectors simply because every type of person has a different perspective to share. Engineers pledge to work in the best interest of the public, but the public is half women – if most engineers are men, they’re bound to oversee some aspects of their projects that could impact the female demographic; things that may have been noticed if a woman was at the table.
Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?
I’ve always admired my aunt. She completed her undergrad in electrical engineering, then completed family medicine, then became a pathologist. She wasn’t afraid to veer from any original paths, just paved her own as she discovered new things about herself. She is also continuously learning new skills outside of her work – learning to play instruments or how to paint or how to juggle. I strive to be as curious about the world and as committed to personal growth and new experiences as her.
What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?
I’ve been involved with Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador for over 10 years now. I competed in graphic design starting in junior high and am now on the Provincial Technical Committee. I am also on the steering committee for the Conception Bay South Community Garden. I knew nothing of gardening starting out, but I care deeply about the climate and social impacts of local growing and food security and really love being involved in these initiatives. Otherwise, I live a pretty quiet life. I like to cook, read, go for walks, and spend time with my small circle of friends and my big family.
What superhero do you relate to most? Why?
Honestly, I’m basically superhero illiterate. I don’t watch many movies, especially not action movies. However, I like Disney, so I’ll talk about that. Wall.E quite possibly kick-started my passion for the environment. It painted a picture of the world that I understood to be reasonably likely given our current trajectory, and that freaked me out. Actually, the Lorax came first. I read that so much as a kid. So the Lorax and Wall.E would be the heroes I relate to. Trying to clean up the mess that corporate greed and unlimited convenience has left on the planet. I speak for the trees.
Anything else you wish to share?
Do what makes you feel useful. Contribute to solving the issues that you are passionate about. Listen to science and encourage others to. Work hard but accept when perfection isn’t possible. Avoid unnecessary drama – a couple of good friends is all you need.
STEM for GIRLS
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