Jennifer Nakayama

Jennifer Nakayama

Director of Operations
Hawaii Convention Center
Honolulu, HI, United States
Jennifer Nakayama
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Jennifer is currently with the Hawai‘i Convention Center/SMG as the Director of Operations and oversees the daily operations of engineering, security guest services, housekeeping, landscaping, information technology, facilities, and capital improvement projects. Prior to joining the convention center, Jennifer supervised a team overseeing $8.6 million in 81 projects at SeaWorld San Diego where she served as both a Design & Engineering Manager and a Manager of Water Quality. She was in charge of master planning and corporate initiatives, green initiatives, water quality, and company partnerships. Prior to SeaWorld, Jennifer worked at the San Diego County Water Authority and worked on strategic planning for the agency’s $1.8 billion capital improvement program. Jennifer is licensed as a Civil Engineer in the state of California and Hawaii. She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Water Works Association, the Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators, and the International Association of Venue Managers. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and her Masters Degree at the University of California, Davis.
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Ms. Jennifer Nakayama

Whether you feel you are good at math or science or drawing (or none of the above!), don't be discouraged from pursuing engineering.  The important thing is to strive for a college degree in a topic that you are actually interested in and therefore a career that you love, not just focusing on whether you do/do not fit the mold.  Be original and be yourself, and you will find that no matter what you perceive you are "good at", you may actually do well if you have confidence.  Interpersonal skills for an engineer are well under-emphasized in school, but they actually play a crucial part of our everyday work.  We interact with many people throughout the day… with the public, clients, and our co-workers, just to name a few.  Having the ability to effectively communicate is a valuable tool, and in many ways, just as important as the nuts and bolts of engineering itself.  For your emphasis on Construction Management, think of this example:  if there is a problem during construction and you have determined a fix, how would you communicate that fix so that the owner or your boss understands the solution and agree to move forward?  The ability to communicate and present your ideas well, may make the difference between a project being built versus it entirely stopping.  How you relay information to others as an engineer becomes so important, especially if there are safety or ethical issues involved.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


It has always been a challenge to encourage women to pursue any technical industry, engineering being one of the main hurdles. For many decades, there has been an unspoken, yet widely assumed notion that women were less equipped to handle the stresses associated with an engineering job. My opinion is that this has been a long-held stereotype established with the strong stay-at-home mom concept of the pre-21st century. However, there have been great strides to help women face these false stereotypes, and make resources available for them to use in the workplace, an example being this Engineer Girl website that you have now visited. Women of the late 20th century and now the 21st century have definitely taken a turn and shown that they can not only handle motherhood, but run the household and excel at their profession as well. Just look at Patricia Galloway, past ASCE President and CEO of Pegasus Global Holdings, Inc., mother of 2 (verify this fact). Believe in yourself. And remember that only YOU have the power to take YOU as far as you want to go in life.

For your senior project, I would suggest an interactive demonstration teaching the concept of density/buoyancy. For this you will need the following materials:

See-thru tub or container, large enough to hold contents below
Water, enough to fill chosen container 2/3 full
A couple of Rubber duckies (yes, the plastic floating kind!), any size
Golf balls (the more the better)
Marking pen

Place the container on an elevated surface, so all can see the inside water level.
Fill with water, 2/3 full; Mark water line with pen.
Ask for a volunteer to put the ducks in; Ask the class, Did the water level move? Verify with pen mark. Why/Why not? (discuss that ducks are filled with air - density is less than water - ducks float)
Take the ducks out.
Ask for volunteer to put all golf balls in (all at once is more dramatic); Ask the class, Did the water level move?; Again verify with the pen mark. Why/Why not? (discuss that balls are solid - density is more than water - balls sink)
Explain how water displacement relates to air, relates to density, and relates to the buoyancy concept. (You can draw another analogy with a boat floating in water, if need be.)

Have fun!