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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Laura Garcia, Fire Protection Engineering

Portrait of Laura Garcia

How long have you worked for WIPP as an Engineer?

I have worked at WIPP for 14 years.

What sparked your interest in engineering? Can you describe the moment you realized this was a field you’d like to pursue?

My interest was sparked while completing a summer internship with an Engineering Firm prior to graduating high school. The firm evaluated properties in flood hazard areas for the City of Denver in Colorado. This included working with FEMA and developing engineering designs to remove the properties from the flood plain. Working with this firm sparked my interest in becoming an Engineer. I loved that each project was unique and always challenging.

What is your title and what do you do?

My current title is: Principle Fire Protection Engineer, as well as a Cognizant System Engineer for all of the systems in Fire Protection.

What is it like to be a woman in engineering?

Being a woman in engineering has given me an immense feeling of pride. I have been truly blessed to have worked in various engineering fields.

What challenges do you face as a woman in the engineering world?

The challenge has always been working in a male dominant world. I have always felt that I have to work twice as hard to prove that I am capable of performing the work. I definitely feel more pressure to make the right decisions and avoid making any mistakes.

Many people imagine engineers sitting in their offices and making calculations all day. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?

The biggest misconception is obviously that we sit at our desk all day performing calculations. Nonetheless, the field of engineering is very diverse. Every day brings a different task with different challenges. This may include going out in the field to inspect equipment, perform job walk downs to ensure all requirements are being met, or attend meetings to address the daily issues.

What advice do you have for females interested in engineering? What kinds of practical experience should they have? What technical skills should they pick up?

  • Engineering is a very diverse field which provides the opportunity to solve problems.
  • Engineering provides a great sense of accomplishment because it allows visualization of an idea, the design of it, and finally to actually see it constructed. I believe taking classes in science and math help proved some practical experience in teaching how to solve problems.
  • The technical skills I would recommend are taking communication classes, as well as any type of classes that develop creativity while problem solving.