Duke Energy celebrates many things during the month of February, most notably, however, are Black History Month and National Engineers Week (E-Week).
Throughout February, Duke Energy honors the history and contributions of people of African ancestry to our society and acknowledges the impact of the African American community to our organization.
As we celebrate the achievements, contributions and historical journeys of African Americans during Black History Month and prepare for E-Week (Feb. 16 – 22, 2020), let’s hear from a few of our employees as they share their perspective as African American engineers in this two-part series. Engineers are a crucial part of the engine that makes us tick. Whether they’re troubleshooting or finding new ways to make our nuclear power plants run more efficiently, we couldn’t operate or innovate without their expertise!
What is your educational background?
David Hunt: I have two degrees – a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.
Charlotte Love: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
Jhamal Holliday: I’ve attended multiple institutions during my pursuit to become an engineer. They’ve all left lasting impacts on the person I’ve become. After earning my Associate’s degree from Tallahassee Community College, I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Florida State University.
Rick McFadden: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.
David Wilson: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University.
What excites you about your work at Duke Energy?
Charlotte: I enjoy the fact that there is always an opportunity to do or learn something new. Even when you have a system/component/program for a number of years, you can never predict when a new challenge will arise. In those moments you learn new things. I also enjoy the team-oriented environment.
Jhamal: I enjoy the interesting problems that pop up. Yes, there can be stressed involved, but the opportunity to solve real world problem can be fun and it’s a major reason why I became an engineer in the first place.
Rick: Right now, installing plant design changes that I created. I like it because you get a chance to see if what you wrote down on paper actually works.
What is the most helpful tip or insight anyone has given you about working at Duke Energy?
David H: Own your professional and leadership development. Create a plan and work towards executing that plan.
Charlotte: The most helpful insight that I’ve received came from my first Engineering director. He told me good engineers know because they saw. He was basically telling me to make sure I learned as much as I could about the system that I owned at the time. Don’t rely only on the details go out into the field and put your eyes on the equipment.
David W: Find something you have a passion for and apply yourself to that passion. In the project management field for engineering, I truly have a passion for improving the capital assets around the company.
How can we engage more underrepresented groups in STEM?
Jhamal: Lots of people believe they have to be great at math from the start and give up on STEM once they’ve found that math doesn’t come naturally to them. I think the first step is to engage the student’s imagination. Once a student truly wants to understand why something works they’ll realize that math is just a tool to help them discover the answers. Learning is easier when you’re self-motivated to do so.
David W: Start as soon as possible working with youth in schools, communities and civic organizations to develop the talent that will move us into the next century. Help to develop the youth when some are unsure as to what they want to do in life. Support them with the financial resources, regardless of economic status.
Why is diversity in STEM important?
David H: Diversity brings a collective body of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to help solve challenging problems. Diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.
Charlotte: Diversity in STEM is important because it gives you opportunities to learn more from colleagues that have different backgrounds. It also influences how others view the company and whether they would consider working there.
David W: Diverse people, knowledge, backgrounds, and cultures, provides the fuel for the growth in STEAM industries. And because we are diverse, everyone wins.
What advice would you give the next generation of black engineering students?
David H: Be proactive in your pursuit of your goals. Nothing will be handed to you, it’s up you to make your dreams happen. Do your homework/research. Seek out multiple sources before coming to a decision/solution to a problem.
Jhamal: Build relationships with the faculty at your school and look for opportunities to participate in their research. If that doesn’t work, try to create your own opportunities. For example, if you have an idea that solves a problem go out and try to make it a reality. I bet you’ll learn something in the process.
David W: Never stop reaching for your dreams. Your dreams will fuel our future. Lastly, put in the hard work. It will pay great dividend for you and your future.
Tune in later this month for more from these engineers.
At Duke Energy
Duke Energy is committed to supporting diversity and equality in the workplace and the communities it serves. The company works to create an environment of advocacy that supports Duke Energy's effort to attract, develop, engage and retain a diverse workforce. The company has a strong network of Employee Resource Groups, including Advocates for African-Americans (A3), which provides educational and recruitment support to attract, retain and engage African-American talent.