Author: Kelly Park, Communications Manager
Meet Maria EL-Zeghayar, Generation Engineer, Portage Power.
Maria works as a Generation Engineer for Portage Power, a generation company that owns and operates green energy projects in Ottawa, Quebec and New York. Maria spoke with us about her path to working in green energy, her experience as a civil engineer and tips for new graduates.
“I completed my undergraduate in Lebanon, and moved to Canada in 2006 to complete my post-graduate studies at the University of Waterloo. I hold a PhD in civil engineering.”
“Before I moved to Canada, I lived in countries where there was no emphasis on renewable energy. When looking at a wind turbine as an engineer I wasn’t exposed to this type of design. It was a curiosity of how renewable structures are built that first sparked my interest in working in the green sector.”
Why are you passionate about being an engineer in clean energy?
“The interesting side to engineering in clean energy projects is they are not your typical structures. There is more regulatory sides of it, that you tend not to learn in school. With a hydro dam you need to learn the environmental side of it, because of the eco-systems it will affect, that you don’t tend to face in commercial buildings. It’s very exciting because you’re facing something new every day.”
“I am in love with my job. I love working in the renewable power field. I find it extremely interesting working for Portage Power as a Generation Engineer, because there’s so many projects on the go. I experience excitement on the construction site or in the office. I am a part of the whole life cycle of a project and involved in each stage of it. Learning new things every single day is very valuable for me.”
What advice would you offer young female engineers at the beginning of their careers?
“As a woman working in a male dominated field, I would recommend to other female professionals to be confident. If you believe in something – voice it. If you’re in a situation with people around a table – take a chair. Don’t sit on the edge. No matter what your position is. Be part of it and take part.”
Any advice for recent graduates looking to their futures?
“Have an open mind. You don’t have to graduate and have passion right away. It’s natural not to know exactly what you want to do in your career. The more you work the more you’ll learn what you like and don’t. And even if you don’t love your job, take the opportunity to see the job as a learning experience.”
“Get exposure to everything you can. Try as much as possible to see everything you can in your chosen industry.”