Sunday, June 23, marks International Women in Engineering Day, or INWED. This annual event was started by the UK-based Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and is recognized globally as a day to raise the profile of female engineers and provide opportunities for girls to engage in STEM as part of their education. To celebrate, we’ve interviewed one of SRP’s brilliant female engineers about her journey.
“There is a need to focus on women in engineering. The numbers are getting better but they’re not there yet.”-Jeni Mistry, as we discuss the purpose of her interview.
Jeni Mistry is a Principal Engineer in Transmission and Generation Operations. She has been with SRP for 14 years and has accomplished much, including receiving two high-performance awards for work during her tenure.
A story of success
But Jeni’s story began well before she joined SRP. She is originally from India, where she earned an engineering degree focused on instrumentation and controls. Jeni’s first internship was at a power plant, and that is where her interest in power systems was ignited and a career path was set forth.
“It’s been almost 17 years since I came to the U.S.,” she says. “When I got here, I wanted to continue to work in that field but with a broader perspective. So I attended ASU and earned an electrical engineering degree focused on power systems.”
You read that right – Jeni has two engineering degrees. And while she will tell you that earning two degrees was one of her biggest career challenges, she will also say it was a great learning opportunity and a chance to meet new people. She’ll also tell you that passion, ultimately, is what kept her going then and continues to do so today.
“I’m very passionate about what I do – I love what I do. It’s the satisfaction that drives me. That I’m contributing to the field that I enjoy working in.”
Where the SRP journey began
It was while she was at ASU that Jeni began an internship with SRP. After completing her degree, she was hired on full time. Since then, she has held several engineering roles ranging from design and planning to operations, which, she explains, broadened her horizons.
“While working at SRP, I was lucky to have received several opportunities from upper management to contribute on high-profile projects. They have chosen me several times and recognized my effort, providing opportunities to grow within the organization.”
Inspiring the future
Today, Jeni is able to help pass those opportunities to the next generation as a mother to an 18-month-old child. She draws inspiration as a parent from her own upbringing.
“My dad is my role model,” she says. “We were homeschooled, and his interests were in math and science, so as a kid, I loved math and science. I’ve always dreamed of being an engineer.”
The importance of encouraging young girls to aspire to roles in engineering is a big part of why SRP invests in STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education. For example, in 2019 alone, SRP selected 33 Arizona schools to receive nearly $150,000 in total grant funds as part of its Classroom Connections program.
Jeni also shares her advice for young people who are dreaming of a career in STEM/STEAM.
“I would say to all the women pursuing this path that there are lots of opportunities in engineering. Not just power systems. When you get into the workforce, be willing and open to learn. Be willing to inquire, grow and even fail. If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never know your potential, so go for it!”
She hopes that in the future there are more women in lead engineering roles. To reach that goal, she urges other parents to get their daughters out there and encourage them to find out what they’re interested in and recognize their potential. She stresses the importance of not letting implicit bias about who can be an engineer get in the way.
Jeni has advice for women in the industry now, too.
“You will succeed if you have a growth mindset,” she explains.
“If there’s an opportunity out there, take it!” she says. “SRP has a great mentorship program. I’ve also informally mentored women within my department and take pride in how they excel in their careers. We also have a rotation program; the young people come in and they soak in information. We’re providing opportunities for the future.”