Who is your professional role model?
Throughout my life, I’ve had several role models, but there are two that stand out—my husband, Lewis E. Harvill, Jr., P.E., and my former professor at Texas Tech University, Dr. Jimmy Smith, P.E., F.NSPE. Throughout their careers both have embodied the ethics and integrity of a professional engineer, which I admire.
Before finishing my engineering degree, I heard about situations at Lewis’ workplace and came to understand how important it is to always have integrity on the job. We have frequently discussed the challenges of making ethical decisions and the ability to properly communicate the reasons to an employer and stand behind them. I have developed a deep understanding about how important integrity is in our profession.
I met Dr. Smith through his wife while I was involved with the Auxiliary to the South Plains Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers because my husband was also a member of the chapter. Eight years later, Dr. Smith was my professor for structural analysis and engineering ethics. He encouraged me, was always up for a good discussion, and chose me as a teaching assistant while I was an undergraduate. He made me feel like I could and would be successful as an engineer and that I would make a difference.
What accomplishment are you most proud of as an engineer?
I believe, with the position I have achieved in my career, it is my responsibility to help mentor other female engineers. We are still a minority in the engineering industry and sometimes that makes it difficult for us to feel like we fit in or are provided the same opportunities as our male counterparts. I feel fortunate to have been able to start two women’s groups (one for my previous employer and one for JQ) where I’m able to have discussions about the challenges women face, develop friendships, provide mentoring, actively serve as a role model, and encourage these women to stay in engineering.
Why did you join NSPE?
NSPE embodies what it is to be a professional engineer. While I was in college I was a member of the student chapter of TSPE, and after I graduated I joined NSPE. I can’t imagine calling myself a professional engineer and not being an active member.
If you were to do anything other than engineering, what would it be?
I would love to partner with my husband to own and run a sportsmen’s lodge in Colorado that offers opportunities for hunting and fishing.
When you’re not working as an engineer, what do you do in your spare time?
Every year we spend a week or two at a place in Colorado where we enjoy hiking, off-road Jeeping, and fly-fishing. At home I enjoy spending time with my family, baking, reading, gardening, and working out.