Background:

Kristi has recently joined the LJA team as an Electrical Engineer.  Her combination of job experience with the soft-skills developed in her various volunteer work has helped her develop into a goal-oriented individual with strong leadership capabilities.  She is organized, highly motivated and a detail-directed problem solver.  She has a proven ability to work in unison with people in both technical fields and skilled trades.

What interested you about being an engineer?

In high school, I had a keen interest in math. My Algebra/Geometry teacher was somebody for whom I had a great deal of respect. When I told him I was considering going to college to be a math teacher, he encouraged me to look into engineering. At that point in my life I really had no idea what an engineer did, but I took his advice. I found that I loved the logical approach to problem solving in the courses I took. I'm thankful for the small school I attended that allowed my math teacher to know enough about me to give me advice that helped shape my future.

What is your favorite part of being an engineer?

If I had to boil it down to one thing, my favorite part of being an engineer is that it allows me to get paid to feed my curiosity of finding how things work and be a part of the process of designing things that work better than before. When my children were younger, I liked being able to see them begin to take an interest in how things work. The engineer in me has always been right there with them, tearing into things to see what's inside something that was broken to see if we could fix it or make it work better.

What has been your favorite or most rewarding project of your career?

I've got a plethora of great memories as I reflect back on my career. The best memories of rewarding projects have always involved a team effort from a variety of people who all have the same goal in mind. One that comes to mind was in my volunteer world. I got involved with volunteering in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) nearly 20 years ago and some of the best friends I have were made through volunteering. The PBS station in Boston, WGBH, was creating a pilot for a show called "Design Squad", and IEEE was a major supporter. I was asked to represent IEEE in helping define the basis for the show. We stumbled some at first but eventually found our footing. The end result was a successful show that is still in production, helping high school students through design challenges each week. The best take-away from that whole process was seeing how the students were encouraged to try their designs and work through determining what worked well and why something didn't work. Giving up was never something that was discussed. Teamwork was crucial to the success of every design project, and in order for their team to succeed, these teens had no choice but to discover their strengths and help their team win the challenge. Witnessing them learn these lessons served to strengthen my approach to teamwork in my personal and professional worlds.

We developed a program for volunteers to take to their local middle-school and high-school to hold either a multi-week, after-school activity or a full-day activity of team-based design challenges. To encourage this, I attended several large IEEE meetings, my time focused on having the attendees participate in one of the design challenges. While reluctant at first, I was approached the remainder of the weekend by many who were excited to plan an event at their local school or, at the very least, have a fun new activity for the next time their grand-kids were visiting them. It was a project that allowed the stereotypical "boring" or "geeky" engineer to see that we can still have fun and laugh while designing and learning.