March is Women’s History Month and it is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the critical contributions women have made to the engineering profession. From Nora Stanton Blatch in 1905 becoming the first woman in the United States to obtain a degree in civil engineering and Lillian Moller Gilbreth who became the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering to Dr. Ellen Ochoa Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the first Hispanic woman in space, women have been breaking down barriers to open professional pathways for future generations of female engineers.
This month, ACEC California will be highlighting women engineers that are excelling at their profession and helping set the standard for future engineering professionals through dedication, high work ethic, and a commitment to serving the public. MNS Engineers submitted a profile of Jennifer Akashi, an engineer with a deep interest in water infrastructure.
Meet Jennifer Akashi of MNS Engineers
In celebration of Women’s History Month, MNS Engineers (a multi-service infrastructure consulting firm with offices throughout California) was asked to highlight the achievements of one of our rising stars. While we have many women at MNS who meet this criterion, we chose to focus on one of our younger engineers, Jennifer Akashi, EIT and 2016 CalPoly Pomona graduate.
Jennifer comes from an engineering family. Her father, a mechanical engineer, first sparked her interest in engineering as a profession. From a young age, Jennifer spent many hours in the garage with her dad hammering, welding, assembling, building. You name it, they did it. “My dad always had a hands-on project for us to work on in the garage” says Jennifer, “He can fix anything”. As an adult, she attributes her handy(wo)man skills to this time spent with her father.
While having an engineer in the household certainly influenced her decision to pursue engineering, it was ultimately her love of the environment and sciences which led her to choose civil engineering as her career.
Unlike many students entering college, Jennifer knew she wanted to get a civil engineering degree. She just didn’t know EXACTLY what she wanted to do. To help guide her through her course work and lay the path for her future, she joined an on-campus chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). It was there she was advised to seek out internships as a means of focusing her career. She pursued both public and private sector opportunities; assisted with proposal preparation and budgets; and was involved in the design of water, wastewater, and surface water projects.
In August 2016, Jennifer joined MNS. When asked what attracted her to the firm, she replied, “This was the first job (in engineering) where my bosses were female. Having strong women role models and leaders was an important factor in my decision making.” She also enjoys the variety of work and growth opportunities within MNS and is particularly interested in recycled water. As her technical abilities mature, Jennifer sees herself in a Project Management role overseeing large water infrastructure projects.
Jennifer’s next challenge is the California Professional Engineers exam.
Some fun facts about Jennifer:
- She holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with an Environmental Emphasis
- She enjoys backpacking with her boyfriend, reading, cooking, and traveling
- After graduation, she spent a month traveling through Europe.