What are your job responsibilities?
I direct and supervise the work of the temperature control mechanics and apprentices, schedule work assignments and order any materials and tools that are necessary. I also work with the project coordinators in other trades to get the jobs done. I have 10 mechanics (journeymen) and two apprentices for a total of 12 people.
Then, you take care of the air conditioning and heating in the buildings?
Yes. If somebody has a room that’s too hot or too cold, they’ll call the service office and ask them to send one of our mechanics out. We take care of the whole campus. We also have our construction crew that does remodels or installations.
Are you the only woman in the shop?
No, actually we have two other women who are temperature control mechanics. We also have two women in the plumbing shop and two women in the pipefitters shop.
What were you doing before you came to the university?
I did new construction, welding, a little bit of everything. Then when I came to the university, I wanted to specialize in the controls, and it’s been a fabulous opportunity for me. I’ve really enjoyed it.
What specifically do you enjoy about it? How did you get into it?
Well, it’s just the challenge of learning something new. In our trade, there’s a lot of different aspects that you can get into: refrigeration, plumbing, temperature control, welding and you can either get into new construction or service work. I just had been on jobs where I’d seen the controls going in, and it interested me because it looked like it’d be a challenging area.
What are some of the challenges in your job?
I would say right now in my job as a foreman, the biggest challenge is trying to get the customers’ needs answered in a timely fashion because it’s a big campus and there are a lot of people.
Is it a challenge supervising a bunch of men?
I’d better be careful how I answer that one!
Actually, since I’ve been here at the university, I haven’t run into challenges like that. It’s still a male-dominated area, and there have been challenges as far as trying to prove yourself physically and trying to prove that you’re capable of doing the work. As far as being a foreman, everything is so new that it’s all challenging to me. I’ve got a lot of support people here in O&M, in the other shops and up front. Everybody’s very helpful, and we all try to work together.
What do you like most about your job?
That you don’t do the same thing every day. There’s always a new customer to talk to or there’s always something new that you’ve got to order. You get to talk to a lot of new people around campus.
I’d like to encourage women to apply and get into the pipefitting trades. I think it’s an area that is still male-dominated, but it’s an area that women can do successfully. If any women would be interested in doing anything in these fields, I’d encourage them to take college courses in the area, not only in math but in refrigeration, welding, plumbing, temperature control.
What is your educational background?
I took some courses at Parkland, but I went through the Local 149 plumbers and pipefitters apprenticeship program, which is a five-year program.
What kind of hobbies or interests do you have?
My biggest hobby right now is agility training with my mixed-breed terrier, Dillon.
How do you get them to go over the obstacles and through the tunnels? Do you just stand on the other side with treats?
A lot of treats. It also takes a lot of repetition. You just start out with just one or two obstacles. It really amazed me because I thought, ‘Dillon won’t take to this.’ But he did. My husband has been building agility equipment, so we have quite a few things in our backyard. I try and work with Dillon, run him through the course, at least once a day. We’ll be going to our first United Kennel Club trial in April at Pottstown, over near Peoria.
Have you bred and trained dogs before?
No. We got Dillon from the Champaign County Humane Society. Best move we ever made. He’s part of our family.