Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

What's It Really Like?: Energy Careers

February 2017

Undergraduate students are invited to meet with energy professionals during the month of February to learn about everyday life in their careers, how they got to their current positions, the current climate in their fields, insights into the future, and anything else that you would like to ask. These will be small, informal groups.

New offerings will be added during the month, so check back often.

You may register for more than one event, but if your second group is full, we will allow new people to participate. To register, click here. Questions- email

  • Wednesday, February 1 - 11:00 - 12:00, Stinson-Remick Room 100
    Lisa Zyonse, Pennie Waggener, and Jordan Ridenour: Consumers Energy

    Lisa Zyonse has experience in the Infrastructure Attachment group of Consumers Energy, working with companies applying to attach cables to their poles, as well as with low voltage distribution engineering and planning. This involves running load flow studies of the current electric system as well as designing them. Pennie Waggener is in the Engineering Entry Program and works on gas compression and storage. Jordan Ridenour is in talent acquisition and the internship program lead.

    Consumers Energy has an Engineering Entry Program. The Engineering Entry Program (EEP) has been specifically designed to provide new or recent college graduates with the tools and experiences needed to successfully transition – and grow within – our professional engineering environment.

    The Engineering Entry Program is a 2-year rotation-based, full-time position that exposes participants to a variety of roles within a defined area of focus, developing long-term technical and leadership skills, as well as provides mentorship and skill-building activities. The program structure offers 4 distinct 6-month rotations that offer both corporate and field-based assignments; individual experiences are defined by both our business needs and your strengths. The program also involves a comprehensive list of learning activities that will provide the EEP Engineer with an overview of the electric, gas, and generation segments within Consumers Energy.

  • Thursday, February 2 - 11:00 - 12:00, Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering Room 257G
    Magaret Merkel, Naval Nuclear Lab
    Sean McCloskey

    Maggie Merkel has been with the Naval Nuclear Laboratory for almost nine years since graduating from ND in 2008 and has experience in project development (getting large projects off the ground); design, analysis, and support of research equipment; manufacturing; and project management. Her current job mixes aspects of mechanical engineering with project management, and she has a BS in Civil Engineering and a Nuclear Engineering Graduate Certificate.

    Sean McCloskey graduated from ND in 2016 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and has been with the company for eight months. He works in Reactor Safety with focus on quantifying risk and identifying potential improvements to plant design, plant procedures, and crew training.

    Naval Nuclear Laboratory personnel are Bettis Atomic Power (BMPC) employees who work at four DOE facilities: Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Kenneth A. Kesselring Site, and Naval Reactors Facility, and at the U.S. Department of Defense-owned Nuclear Power Training Unit-Charleston. BMPC employees also have an established presence at numerous shipyards and vendor locations. Since 1946, the Naval Nuclear Laboratory has developed advanced naval nuclear propulsion technology, provided technical support, and trained world-class nuclear operators to ensure the safe and reliable operation of our nation’s submarine and aircraft carrier Fleets. The Naval Nuclear Laboratory is a National Asset solely dedicated to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. We rely on the dedication and innovation of our nearly 7,000 engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel.

  • Friday, February 3 - 2:00 - 3:00, Stinson-Remick Room 315
    John Kinney- Director, Advanced Technology Business Development, General Electric Aviation

    As the Director of Advanced Technology Business Development for GE Aviation, John is responsible for working globally with Government agencies, industry partners, small businesses, and universities for the development of advanced technologies that enhance GE Aviation’s product portfolio. 

    His 38 year career at GE Aviation includes roles in aero-thermodynamic cycle design and flight test programs; systems engineering as the manager of air systems integration for GE’s Joint Strike Fighter engine program and GE’s Regional Jet engine programs in Brazil and China; product support as the program manager for GE’s commercial prognostic health management programs; global marketing, sales, and business development working with GE’s global enterprise, customers and partners; and human resources.

    Prior to joining GE Aviation, John worked at McDonnell-Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri. 

    John holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

  • Tuesday, February 7 - 4:00 - 5:00, Stinson-Remick Room 315
    Therese Dorau, Director of Sustainability, City of South Bend

    The Director of Sustainability develops, implements, monitors, and measures initiatives that incorporate sustainability into City operations and community life. The Director stewards taxpayer dollars by pursuing energy efficiency and waste reduction projects, relying on data analysis to find opportunities. The Director is a stakeholder in City and community conversations, helping create additional value by encouraging consideration of social equity, environmental, and economic impacts of projects. The Director provides research- and best practice-based technical assistance to City staff.
  • Wednesday, February 8 - 3:00 - 4:00, Stinson-Remick Room 100
    Dan Shoop and Charles Farrell, Mechanical and Environmental Engineers, Notre Dame Power Plant

    Dan Shoop joined the Utilities Department at the University of Notre Dame as a mechanical engineer. Since that time he has spent most of his time working on capital projects associated with the power plant and distribution tunnel. Previous to that he worked in the manufacturing industry for Elkhart Brass, making firefighting equipment as a design engineer focusing on integrated remote controlled firefighting systems.  He also worked for Nappanee RV Components as an engineering manager manufacturing windows and doors for the RV Industry. His experiences also include time at Koontz-Wagner Electric as a project engineer and manager and as Operations Manager in the mechanical fabrication facility where he supervised 30 people and was responsible for project design, quality, and schedule. Dan began his career at CenterLine Mechanical, a mechanical contractor/pipe fitting company in South Bend as a project engineer, welding inspector/quality control manager and safety director. He also spent time in the nuclear power industry as a component engineer focusing on valves (safety valves, air operated valves, and motor operated valves).

    Charles “Chip” Farrell is the Senior Environmental and Safety Specialist for the University of Notre Dame Utilities Department. His responsibilities include managing compliance for the University’s four National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, domestic water supply program, Title V air permit, and other environmental programs. He is the University’s MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Coordinator, oversees construction site storm water permitting, and is also involved in the planning and design of campus sewer & water infrastructure projects. Mr. Farrell is the safety compliance manager for the University’s Facilities, Design and Operations Division, which includes the Planning Design & Construction, Utilities, and Maintenance departments. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1998 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Prior to his employment at the University, he worked as a consultant with Lawson-Fisher Associates, P.C. in South Bend, IN, where his main focus was planning, permitting, and design of water resource projects including water mains, storm and sanitary sewers and hydroelectric dam projects. Mr. Farrell is a registered professional engineer in the State of Indiana. 
  • Friday, February 10 - 2:00 - 3:00, Stinson-Remick Room 100
    Vince Barletto, Sr. Project Engineer, Cypress Creek Renewables

    Vince Barletto leads a team of engineers and designers who design utility scale solar projects all over the country. Cypress Creek Renewables partners with local communities and utilities to provide widespread access to affordable, clean energy. Their small-scale solar development model allows them to build solar farms in underserved areas, providing clean energy as a viable option for the greatest number of people. These community-based projects mean local job sourcing and administration, mutually beneficial lease agreements with landowners, and an open approach to community input regarding buffer zones.
  • Monday, February 13 - 3:00 - 4:00, Stinson-Remick Room 100
    Subhash Shinde, Associate Director of ND Energy; formerly Research and Development Manager at Sandia National Labs and Senior Scientist/Engineer at IBM

    Subhash Shinde has worked as a materials scientist and in program development at Sandia National Laboratories and at IBM’s Microelectronics Division and Research. At Sandia, Dr. Shinde worked with concentrating solar power among other things.

    Often the center of product innovation, materials scientists and engineers create and test new materials for making everything from medical devices and artificial tissues to alternative energy sources. They study and manipulate molecular structures, attempting to rearrange the atoms and molecules in order to change the mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic, and chemical properties.
  • Friday, February 24 - 4:00 - 5:00, Stinson-Remick Hall Room 315
    Thomas Degnan, Tony and Sarah Earley Professor of Energy and the Environment
    Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

    Thomas Degnan, Ph.D., a professor of Energy and the Environment in Notre Dame’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, will share experiences from his 38 years in industrial research and development with ExxonMobil and 3M. Having a strong interest in energy efficiency, he helped develop industrial catalytic processes for reducing harmful emissions. He also worked with small and medium-sized companies, as well as many major universities to come up with better ways to refine petrochemical.
  • Monday, February 27 - 3:00 - 4:00, Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering Room 257G
    Katie Otterbeck- Campaign Organizer at Impact/Environment Colorado

    As an organizer with Impact, Katie runs a solar energy campaign for one of Impact's partner groups - Environment Colorado. Her work aims to accelerate the development of solar power in Colorado by earning bold renewable energy commitments at the city and county level, and aiding in the implementation of localized solar energy incentive programs. In her solar energy campaign, Katie works to build community support at the grassroots level, maintain broad coalitions in the state, and represent Environment Colorado through earned and opinion media. Katie values the level of responsibility that she has over her campaign and the comprehensive training program that Impact offers on advocacy and organizing skills.