April 2016: Meet Alicia, who really does look like an engineer
Being an electrical engineer can take you far. It's taken Alicia all around the world.
Alicia arrived in Texas City from her native St. Louis by way of places that include Siberia and off-shore oil rigs. She joined TNMP in August.
Her job focuses on making sure that substations, which convert voltage from higher to lower levels or vice versa, have the right equipment and are engineered correctly.
"We're the line of defense to make sure equipment is connected and wired correctly," she says. "If it's not, it's not going to work."
Alicia previously worked in the petroleum industry, where women engineers – including younger and African-American women – remain less-than-common. That was a challenging environment.
"People just assume you don't know what you're doing," she says.
Two-week shifts on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico certainly left an impression with Alicia.
"The only other women you'd see would be cooks and housekeepers," she says. "It was very hard to get respect (from crew members), especially when you're the same age as some of their
'They can be anything'
A viral social media campaign launched in summer of 2015 tagged #ILookLikeAnEngineer saw women emphasizing that they are in those professions.
Alicia says she'd like to see African-American girls – and all kids – with an aptitude for math and science given encouragement to pursue engineering fields.
"I would tell them that they can be anything," she says. "They need to be encouraged. Not just girls, but boys, too."
Just because she works in a male-dominated field doesn't mean Alicia doesn't have other sides to her.
Alicia performs in competitive, adult figure skating events in the Houston area (see photo). She's also known for bringing homemade treats to the office – including her specialty, banana nut bread with chocolate chips.
"Every chance I get," she says, "I'm baking things and bringing them in."