By Neal Hitch
3:24 PM EDT, June 26, 2013
Joan Inlow has been leading the construction of the Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind project in Imperial County. She joined Pattern’s Engineering and Construction group in 2008 as a Construction Project Manager. Since that time she has overseen the design, construction and commissioning of five utility scale wind energy projects. Joan stands out as a woman in the wind energy field, but her passion for mechanical engineering is what really sets her apart. The fact that the percentage of women entering engineering has not changed measurably since her graduation in 1984 has given Joan the life goal to encourage more women to consider engineering and math as a job path.
Q: We understand that you have been nominated for the Women of Wind Energy, San Diego Chapter, Woman of the Year award. This, in large part, owes to your work on the Ocotillo Wind project in the Imperial Valley. As you reach milestones in your career, it is possible to reflect back on where you have come from. How did you begin or start down a path that led you into the emerging field of clean energy?
I grew up in San Diego in the University Heights area. I gravitated to math and science. I was good at it. It made me feel good that I was good at it. I did not do as well in history or English, but I really liked the logic of math.
When I went to college I wanted to do something tangible, something you could see. A friend told me I should look into Engineering. I did not know what it was, but as a freshman I enrolled in engineering classes.
I consider myself lucky. Most people search for a long time to find something they love — but at San Diego State University I discovered that I loved Mechanical Engineering, and I have gotten to do what I love from the very beginning.
After college I started working at Turbomach. We made products for commercial and military aircraft — mostly gas turbines. I did test engineering and project engineering. Part of my job was to test prototype engines. I also managed projects from the start of design through the first few years of in-flight operation. It was an exciting and fulfilling job.
Read more about Inlow in the June 2013 print edition of Valley Women Magazine. Find a rack location near you or to subscribe to our bi-monthly magazine call 760-337-3456.