Janelle Leafblad

Janelle Leafblad

West Coast Central Regional Director
WoodWorks - Wood Products Council
Livermore, CA, United States
Janelle Leafblad
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A California licensed professional engineer, Janelle has been an active building technology consultant since 2002, primarily in the area of wood technology and durability, investigation and design of building envelope components, and construction for both historic and contemporary structures. She earned her BS in Architectural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and her MS in Wood Science and Technology from the University of California at Berkeley.
BS in Architectural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering MS in Wood Science and Technology from the University of California at Berkeley
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
Answers by Janelle Leafblad

Thanks for this great question, Jenna! I believe there are many opportunities available that are compatible with your interests. I would encourage you to look into: Construction Engineering and Management, Forest Engineering, Surveying, and branches of Civil/Environmental Engineering such as geotechnical and water resources. All of these programs and professions have an increased amount of outdoor site work.

Additionally, with regards to engineering office work, I’ve noticed that the ‘typical’ office environment is changing with increased use of mobile applications for project engineering. I have had the opportunity to do a great deal of site work but instead of returning to the office to write a report or draw a detail, I am able to do more of that work right there in the field. In the office, spaces are becoming more collaborative and walls are coming down.

Good luck with your senior year and college/career search!

Autumn, Yes, you are being absolutely realistic that you can do this! There will be obstacles, hardships, and sacrifices along the way but there will also be help to overcome them and support to sustain you through them. I think you will be inspiring to be so brave as to take steps even small, slow steps towards the life and career you really want. I speak from experience as my mother returned to school when I was young. She made college look fun and her challenges grew great rewards for our family. My advice is to get all the information about your degree and the type of employment you will be looking for upfront. These are going to start to look like impossible hurdles but the more you know, the more you can prepare. For instance, depending upon the type of engineer youd like to become, a bachelors degree may not be enough to get you an entry level position. Also, new employees are typically expected to have the steepest learning curve and employers will want you to do some level of travel and work longer hours. College does not completely prepare you for engineering work; in fact your role as an Office Manager has probably taught you more about people skills and project management skills youll need in any employment and highly marketable for engineers. Find out from the colleges youll be applying to who the academic advisors are and ask to schedule a meeting with them. Have a frank discussion about your goals and commitments. As soon as you begin classes, reach out to your colleges alumni office and ask them to set you up with a mentor or join a program like MentorNet that focuses on women in engineering. Best wishes to you on this journey!