Reef Industries

Women in Power (WiP): Ana Manzanares

My name is Ana Manzanares and I was born and raised in El Salvador. I moved to the United States when I was twelve years old to reunite with my family of 10 siblings already living in the States. My family migrated to the United States to live a better and safer life and more importantly to give the younger siblings an opportunity for a better education.

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I attended an all-girl private academy during my High School years and this experience taught me so many things about life and the world, but more importantly all the potential that girls have in technical professional careers.

I developed an interest in a science career when I was attending high school because since, English was not my first language; there is no language barrier when doing mathematics, so math and science were the subject that I could identify myself with. I decided to attend Michigan Technology for its engineering program and to this date it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and later in 2009 I received a Master in Business Administration from Indiana University Northwest.

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I joined ComEd in 2010 as a Distribution Construction Consultant (DCC) engineer for the New Business department in the city of Chicago. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with more than $15 billion in annual revenues and a customer base of 5.2 million. ComEd and its nearly 6,000 employees are responsible for maintaining more than 78,000 miles of power lines that make up the electric transmission and distribution system in Northern Illinois.

During the years working as a DCC engineer, I acquired a lot of knowledge regarding ComEd’s distribution system. I designed underground and overhead services for residential, commercial, and industrial facilities using AutoCAD or TED (Tools of Engineering Design). Some other activities included talking to customers, front line construction supervisors, and visiting customer’s construction site.

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I became involved with Women in Power this year after joining the Smart Grid and Technology Department. The department’s director and PES WiP Committee Chair, Dr. Shay Bahramirad, talked to me about this initiative and I immediately was interested in being part of this vision. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for so many of us who want to contribute and promote diversity and leadership in the power and energy industry. Since I became a member of WiP, I have become one of the regional representatives for Region 4 with the vision of assisting this committee reach men and women with all different backgrounds.

One of my biggest accomplishments in life has been becoming an Electrical Engineer. When growing up in my home country, there was only one transformer servicing the entire village. By the time it would reach my house, there was nothing but a dim yellow light lighting the house. Electricity was scarce growing up which meant that most of time we didn’t have any. In present time, I have the opportunity, in my current position, to be part a team that is designing a Microgrid using distributed energy, like solar PV and battery storage units. This Microgrid will help in the improvement of the power quality and energy delivered to customers.

My second biggest accomplishment has been climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro in summer of 2013. Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain and is the tallest free standing mountain in the world. I love nature and exploring different places. I have had the opportunity to visit 22 different countries and experiencing the different cultures makes me want to learn more, explore more, and meet people from different places. Working in the smart Grid and Technology department gives me this great opportunity; I am so lucky to have colleagues from this many different backgrounds: Greece, Finland, Nigeria, Mexico, Spain, Australia, Jordan, Iran, China, and the Unites States. I can say I am in my comfort zone when working with all of them because I love learning from all of them.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, reading, biking, relaxing, and travelling. I also love dancing and singing. Being part of this WiP committee is a great opportunity to share with everyone the different backgrounds we have but at the same we all share the same vision which is to promote careers in the power and energy field. I want to continue participating in activities that promote women in STEM fields. When growing up I never imagine becoming an engineer, but I am one and I love it. Today I invite you to be part of Women in Power.

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