NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff

NYPA Recognizes its Engineers: Mohammad Latif

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Mohammad Latif, an Electrical Engineer who has been with NYPA for two years.


How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on what you wanted to specialize in?

Growing up in a household of a schoolteacher back in Bangladesh, I only had two options for the future: doctor or engineer. After graduating High School, I decided to study veterinary medicine and even completed three years of vet school in Bangladesh before immigrating to USA. However, once in New York, due to various obstacles I could not pursue the veterinarian path and thus reverted to the second choice at hand; engineering. I must say, looking back I am very happy with the choice I had made.

I was 10 years old when my village first got electricity. That old black light switch and the 100W incandescent light bulb was a whole new world to me. I witnessed the impact on how electricity can change human life. You can say that was the reason I chose electrical engineering in college.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

I am greatly appreciative of the teamwork and support that each of us has amongst our group members. By working with NYPA, I feel as though I am making a contribution towards the greater New York State.

What do you love most about engineering?

Engineering is hands on and I love that. I can see the impact my actions have on the projects going in and out. It allows me to learn and grow my understanding each and every day.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

You must love what you do and do it to the best of your ability. If you are not comfortable with math, science and analytical thinking, this field may not be right for you. However, if you excel in these areas and want to design tasks that effect everyday life; this is a great path to take.

What does engineering mean to you?

Detect the PROBLEMS – find & create the SOLUTIONS – make the DECISIONS.

What is one thing about yourself that most people would find surprising?

Looking at where I am now, most people would find it surprising that when I first came to New York, I worked as a dish washer then bus boy, barista, food runner, cook, waiter, NYC taxi driver, NYS Home Inspector and finally an Electrical Engineer. I’ve done it all!

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff

NYPA Recognizes Its Engineers: Randy Solomon

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Randy Solomon, Director of Energy Services Delivery at NYPA.

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How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on what you wanted to specialize in?

I always liked science and math and how things worked, so I chose to study engineering in college. I chose to get a degree in industrial engineering because it was a good mix of business and engineering principles. My uncle also graduated in this field and was very successful in his career.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

I am proud to be a part of NYPA’s initiatives to lower energy usage and reduce greenhouse gases in New York State. I feel that this is making a difference for future generations.

What do you love most about engineering?

I love to solve technical, or really any type of problems. Engineers love to find solutions, implement them and then see the results.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to get an engineering degree. Do not get discouraged with poor test grades at the start or at any point. Persistence pays off in school and later in life. Keep forging ahead if this is your goal. Also, keep in mind that people are important in the solution of any problem. Thus, excellent communication skills (writing and verbal) are a huge benefit to having a successful career as an engineer.

What does engineering mean to you?

It means solving problems to make the world a better place.

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff, Women In Engineering

NYPA Recognizes Its Engineers: Femina Fernandes

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Femina Fernandes, an Associate System Planning Engineer, who has been with NYPA for 3 years.

How did you enter the engineering field?

Initially, I wanted to be a doctor, but it turns out I was better at Math and Physics than I was at Biology! While at engineering school, I started spending a lot more time in the Power Systems lab and I realized that this was my calling. That’s when I decided to become a proud Electrical Engineer.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

NYPA is a great place to work at. Among other things, there is great field exposure, good mentors, lots of different fields under the same roof to learn from and a diverse working atmosphere. As an Engineer, there are a lot of generation & transmission projects to keep you busy.

What do you love most about engineering?

Engineering is a challenging field. There are many different solutions for one problem and finding the best one is the key. There is always something new to learn and with growing technology, there is always something old to improve. It’s a win-win.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

It’s not for the faint hearted. Any form of engineering requires constant attention to detail and a lot of solution seeking. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a great career choice.

What does engineering mean to you?

Engineering to me means solving a problem and then fine tuning it some more. At the end of the day, and after all the hard work you put in, you know you are contributing something important to society. In my case, that would be electricity.

The best part about the job is watching the projects you work on come to life!

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff, Women In Engineering

NYPA Recognizes its Women in Engineering: Katie O’Toole

Throughout March, we posted a series of interviews with NYPA’s female engineers in honor of Women’s History Month. The last post features a Q&A session with Katie O’Toole.

1. How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on your specialty? In high school, I excelled in math and science, and with my dad as a role model I thought engineering would be a good fit for me. Through my studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I took an Intro to Electrical Engineering class and I knew that that was what I wanted to do. Not only did I find it interesting, but I knew that going into the power industry would provide job security, since everyone needs electricity.

2. Did you have a female engineer as a mentor? No.

3. What makes you proud to work at NYPA? How long have you worked here? I am proud to work for NYPA because it is a well-known company dedicated to delivering low-cost, reliable clean energy to all of New York.  I have worked at NYPA for 2 years and 10 months.

Kathryn O'Toole

Katie O’Toole

4. How many positions have you held at NYPA? One. I am an Associate Electrical Engineer with the Electrical Engineering Group.

5. What things do you love most about engineering? What I love the most about engineering is that there is something new to learn every day, whether it is a new piece of equipment or system to learn about. Technology is always changing, making it is so important to know what is available and how to use it properly.

6. What are the most difficult aspects of your job? What parts do you enjoy the most? The most difficult and enjoyable part of engineering is that no two jobs are the same. While you might have some background knowledge of a similar project that will be helpful, there are always new challenges to work through which keep things interesting and exciting.

7. What project that you have worked on are you most proud of? The project that I am most excited and proud of being a part of is the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant Life Extension Modernization (LPGP LEM) project because it is such a big undertaking that involves coordination between so many different people and equipment. It is fascinating to see how carefully all the phases of this project are planned and actuated successfully.

8. Did you face any obstacles in becoming an engineer? If so, which was the biggest one? Yes, when I started college I had professors tell me that I would never make it as an engineer because I did not pick things up as quickly as other students and that I should consider other career options. That gave me the drive to work even harder to reach my goal of becoming an engineer. Not only did I graduate and find a job as an electrical engineer right out of school, but I graduated on the Dean’s List.

9. What valuable lessons have you learned as your career as a female engineer has evolved? I have learned no matter what gets thrown your way, to take things one step at a time. Breaking down overall jobs into individual tasks makes them much easier to tackle and much less intimidating.

10. What advice would you offer young women considering engineering as a profession? There is no such thing as routine work in engineering, you need to be willing to step up to the plate and not be afraid to take on whatever challenges are thrown your way.

11. If you had to use one word to describe your opinion of the engineering profession, what would it be? One word I would use to describe the engineering profession is multifaceted, because not only are there a vast amount of projects that you can get thrown into, but there are many different steps that must be taken from a conceptual design, to construction, to a fully functioning system.

12. What is one thing about yourself that most people would find surprising? One thing that people might find surprising about me is that I am a professional USA gymnastics coach.

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff, Women In Engineering

NYPA Recognizes its Women in Engineering: Lindsey McCloy

Throughout March, we’ll be posting a series of interviews with NYPA’s female engineers in honor of Women’s History Month. Today’s entry features a Q&A session with NYPA Assistant Research & Technology Development Engineer II Lindsey McCloy.

1. How did you enter the engineering field and decide on your specialty? Growing up, I always viewed science and math as tools to discover solutions to big world problems, and I think that’s why I tracked toward engineering as a career.  I settled on mechanical engineering in college because the discipline allowed me to explore many areas of interest, including sustainable energy technology, materials science, design, complex systems, and breaking stuff.

Lindsey McCloy

Lindsey McCloy

2. Did you have a female engineer as a mentor? Though I haven’t had an official female engineering mentor, I would count as “informal mentors” my female friends and colleagues in engineering, to whom I frequently turn for advice and perspective.  I’m also reliant on a loose network that includes former professors, supervisors, colleagues at NYPA, and family members (my engineer dad, energy businessman grandfather, power system researcher boyfriend, and life expert mom) who let me pepper them with questions and who kindly dispense wisdom.  Officially speaking, I’ve been lucky to participate in NYPA’s mentoring program which paired me with Paul Belnick, and he’s been an invaluable source of guidance as I’ve begun my NYPA career.

3. What makes you proud to work at NYPA?  How long have you worked here? I have worked as an Assistant R&TD Engineer for about a year and a half, my first and only position so far at NYPA.  Everyone who works here, throughout all of the business units, is an inexhaustible trove of information, and they are so generous with their time and knowledge – they constantly amaze me!

4. What things do you love most about engineering? Engineering, as both an academic and professional discipline, is all about breaking down and reorienting seemingly intractable problems.  I really enjoy the interplay of rigor and creativity involved in engineering solutions.

5. What are the most difficult aspects of your job?  What parts do you enjoy the most? Paradoxically, I find the same thing both most challenging and most exciting:  the sheer amount of information and scope of the R&D department’s work.  Sometimes it feels like I’m always playing catch-up to get up to speed on a project in a new area, but finally grasping abstract notions (like “what is a power system”) and being able to speak the language of a project is a great feeling.

6. Did you face any obstacles in becoming an engineer? I think pretty much anyone who’s gone through engineering school would say the same thing (if they don’t, they’re a robot and you shouldn’t trust them):  engineering school is hard!  It seems as though it’s structured as an endurance test and that if you complete it, you’re equipped to handle pretty much anything an engineering career can throw at you.  Fortunately, so far that’s been the case!

7. What valuable lessons have you learned as your career as a female engineer has evolved? The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that networking, especially within the company, is extremely important. Building personal working relationships with people across the company, especially when your work spans sites and business units as mine has a tendency to, makes solving problems so much easier – when you’re tackling a new issue or project, already knowing who to talk to makes the solution much easier to find.

8. What advice would you offer young women considering engineering as a profession? Listen and observe, always.  The fastest way to learn is by listening to others and picking up details through observation, whether in the field, in a meeting, or in a brief conversation in the hall.   You never know when this information will be just the thing to help you solve a tough problem.

9. If you had to use one word to describe your opinion of the engineering profession, what would it be? Utilitarian.

10. What is one thing about yourself that people would find surprising? In 8th grade, I was the North Carolina state champion in the National Geographic Bee, so you can trust me with directions!

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff, Women In Engineering

NYPA Recognizes its Women in Engineering: Maribel Cruz-Brown

Throughout March, we’ll be posting a series of interviews with NYPA’s female engineers in honor of Women’s History Month. Today’s entry features a Q&A session with NYPA Economic Development & Energy Efficiency Program Manager Maribel Cruz-Brown.

1. How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on your specialty? I really enjoyed Math and Science in high school and received a partial scholarship to attend Manhattan College. During my college search, I was informed that an Engineering Degree would serve me well if I wanted to enter into any other career choice later on. They were right.

Maribel Cruz-Brown

Maribel Cruz-Brown

2. Did you have a female engineer as a mentor? I had interned all through college but didn’t come across any other female engineers until my first job out of college with Syska Hennessy Group. My aunts and uncles went to great schools like NYU and Yale. They were amazing role models for me, and I have great female engineering role models here at NYPA.

3. What makes you proud to work at NYPA? This organization thrives because of the contributions from entry level to executive management. Over the past 14 years, I have seen how reliable public power and energy efficiency upgrades have real, positive impacts on NY communities.

4. What things do you love most about engineering? Most engineers say problem solving skills and I agree but it goes deeper than that.  Engineering is a resolution to a need, it is an approach.  I studied Mechanical Engineering so to me it’s all about gears, motors and turbines making things happen.

5. What project are you most proud of? My first energy efficiency projects at NYPA have set the tone for my career here.   I began my career with NYPA at NYC and Westchester schools, hospitals and precincts. They called on my engineering knowledge, street smarts and negotiating skills.  I learned to maneuver through challenges with customers, public officials and contractors.

6. Did you face any obstacles in becoming an engineer? I always had to balance school while working close to full time my entire college career. I’m currently earning my M.B.A, and I have two young sons – so life is a little busy at the moment.

7. What valuable lessons have you learned as your career as a female engineer has evolved? Always be professional and mindful of your contributions and you will be successful.  Not everyone we work with has been exposed to the diversity of the engineering world of today. I had a customer ask me if I had really gone to school for engineering, why I chose my nontraditional profession, where I had studied, etc. By the end of our meeting he was eager to proceed with the recommendations I had presented for his town.

8. What advice would you offer young women considering engineering as a profession? I have been speaking to elementary and high school students for 10 years.  My message is still the same.  If she (or he) has a passion for math/science, want to work on projects that have local impact and is ready to put the time in then the engineering field is for them!

9. If you had to use one word to describe your opinion of the engineering profession, what would it be? Symphony. A collaboration of instruments, players, working at different levels to create a beautiful product.

10. What is one thing about yourself that most people would find surprising? Years ago I wanted to create and be the host of a Home Improvement Show demonstrating to women how to DIY.

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NYPA Engineers, NYPA Staff, Women In Engineering

NYPA Recognizes its Women in Engineering: Kaela Mainsah

Throughout March, we’ll be posting a series of interviews with NYPA’s female engineers in honor of Women’s History Month. Today’s entry features a Q&A session with NYPA Chemical Engineer Kaela Mainsah.

1. How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on your specialty? I decided on chemical engineering because I like chemistry and was interested in the industrial processes that enabled daily living. If you’ve ever eaten a chocolate bar, taken a pain killer or enjoyed a coffee at dawn – a chemical engineer has been involved in the creation of your experience.

Kaela Mainsah

Kaela Mainsah

2. Did you have a female engineer as a mentor? There were a few women in my undergraduate degree and others a few years ahead of us. Although they were not formal mentors, they inspired us by reminding us that we belonged. I know a personal mentor would have been a great help, and I am excited at the prospect and the wealth of female engineering mentors at NYPA.

3. What makes you proud to work at NYPA? How long have you worked here? I have been at NYPA for almost a year – I really enjoy the camaraderie and I am proud to be part of NYPA’s implementation of Executive Order 88 – I believe that strategies and initiatives employed as part of BuildSmart NY will have a lasting influence on the State Energy Efficiency Industry.

4. Did you face any obstacles in becoming an engineer? If so, which was the biggest one? I did find it challenging as a new engineer to find my place – I joined a company that had not hired a graduate engineer for a number of years; I was a novelty and constantly had to prove myself. They also did not have facilities at all the sites for women and I remember changing in closets once or twice.

5. What valuable lessons have you learned as your career as a female engineer has evolved? I have learned that diversity strengthens all teams because of the different perspectives we bring to solution design and problem solving. Ultimately, success at engineering requires the ability to communicate, solve problems and work within a team. As women have a well-known bias for team building teams and communicating effectively, I think women are built for engineering.

6. What advice would you offer young women considering engineering as a profession? I would tell young women that the engineering discipline is an excellent foundation for almost any discipline. Engineering particularly chemical engineering, touches a variety of industries and a wealth of opportunities to be involved in the manufacture of a wide range of products both at home and abroad.

7. If you had to use one word to describe your opinion of the engineering profession, what would it be? Undervalued! I feel that society values the end consumer product, the marketing and buzz without an appreciation for the technical engineering behind it. Engineers are responsible for a lot of innovation and business growth and the industry plays a critical role in economic growth…. engineers create jobs… in fact, they create industries.

8. What is one thing about yourself that most people would find surprising? I could speak perfect Mandarin at the age of 4 because my parents lived in China at the time. I have forgotten every word of it but I am sure it lurks in the dark recesses of my mind. Maybe I will try hypnosis!

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