Powering across the globe

Electrical engineer, Jonna L. Bournias, with CH2M HILL, has worked in the area of industrial power in the form of various capital projects for the past 20 years.


Jonna L. Bournias, electrical engineer, CH2M HILL, Albuquerque, N.M.Who: Jonna L. Bournias        

Where: Albuquerque, N.M.

What: Electrical engineer at CH2M HILL, currently on temporary assignment in Ireland.

About: For the past 20 years, Jonna has worked in the area of industrial power in the form of various capital projects. She has been very involved with her local IEEE chapter as the local publications committee chairman and newsletter editor for the Houston Section (Section 5).

What is working well in the engineering profession today?

With the advancement of computers over the last decade or more, communication has never been easier. E-mail is an obvious example but also the advanced CAD programs that allow disciplines to coordinate and build computer models of the plants they are designing. These tools have features that allow us to coordinate and analyze interferences with each other in ways that were not possible in years past.

What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on professionally?

The area of semiconductor microelectronics fabrication facilities is quite challenging because that business is a very competitive. High-tech microelectronics have a very short shelf life, therefore schedule is critical. This causes our project schedules to be very tight.

What product or technology has changed your job the most?

I work in the area of industrial power, which is not really a high-tech area. Obviously personal computers have changed things quite a bit. We are able to run our calculations on much higher-tech, user-friendly programs rather than by hand or the cumbersome computer mainframes of the past. These programs can model multiple scenarios and allow us to change parameters quite easily to study how the systems will respond

Who has mentored you in your engineering profession, and what have you taken away from this relationship?

I really don’t have one particular mentor, but there have been several folks over the years I have looked up to. Some are technical mentors and some are professional mentors and some are even work/life balance mentors. To narrow that down to one person would be difficult.

What do you think electrical systems of the future will be like from an engineering perspective?

I think we will be focusing on green power more in the future, which will promote development in the areas of power storage and renewable energies (wind, solar, etc.). These technologies are developing, but they are not truly cost-effective as of yet.

How would your coworkers or clients describe you?

My coworkers would probably describe me as fun. I like to have a good time at work. We spend so much of our time at work and with our coworkers that we have to make it a place we enjoy.

How is engineering like a triathlon?

Well, I would say persistence is the key. Getting through something like a triathlon requires a lot of persistence. The same is true for obtaining an engineering degree and succeeding in the workplace. There are often obstacles that have to be overcome, sometimes it seems like there is no end in sight, but with persistence you eventually get there and feel pretty good when you are done.

If you were 22 again, what would you do differently, and why?

I think I would accept more international and varied assignments. I am doing that now and am really enjoying it. However, I am away from my family, and when I was 22 I would not have had that issue. I think I would have been able to take more advantage of the travel opportunities and learning experiences that go with an assignment such as the one I am currently on.

What one word best describes you?

Fun: I know I said it already, but I think it describes me the best.

What makes you laugh?

People make me laugh. I surround myself with people who have a great sense of humor. I generally gravitate toward people with a sense of sarcasm that comes out as a humorous spin on the situation.

What do you wonder about?

I wonder what the future holds for my children and whether they will be able to make a comfortable living and live someplace safe. The world has changed a lot over my lifetime, but it is also the same in a lot of ways. I have been very lucky.

What other locations are on your must-see list?

Well, I hope to get to Norway, Germany, Austria, and Spain while I am still overseas. Beyond that I would like to see Alaska and Australia. 

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