Jill S. Tietjen

Jill S. Tietjen P.E.

President and CEO
Technically Speaking, Inc.
Jill S. Tietjen
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I am proud to work in the electric utility industry - helping to provide electricity to power our world. I serve as a consultant and provide expert witness services in the areas of planning for power plants and rates. For over 30 years, I have worked to get more women in the engineering field. An engineering career is so meaningful - engineers make the world work.

B.S., Applied Mathematics (minor, Electrical Engineering), University of Virginia. M.B.A., University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Registered Professional Engineer, Colorado.
  • 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 be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Jill S. Tietjen P.E.

Dear Hannah,  

You ask a very important question (quite similar to one that an undergraduate in mechanical engineering asked me last week).  No, it is not important that you love every class that you take in engineering.  In fact, I would say that would be quite unusual.  This is not something that you should worry about.  By the way, I simply detest chemistry and there were other courses that I could barely stomach.  

I believe that an engineering education's purpose is primarily to teach you to think in a certain way.  Engineers solve problems in a creative manner.  So, it isn't the class or professor that is important, it is the knowledge base and the way to think.  

If you assume that your entire college education consists of 100% of your education, in the work place, you will use an estimated 10% of that knowledge.  Much of what you will need to know will be the result of on-the-job training after you start your job.

Electrical engineering is a highly diverse field.  In fact, there are 39 separate societies under the umbrella of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  No one can be expected to be in love with all 39 areas!

So, please, keep on keeping on.  You can do it .



Yes, I highly encourage you to pursue the community college route on the way to your BS in EE.  Many students – in fact, about half – enroll in community college for the first two years of their engineering education.  It allows the students to finish up many of the basic classes (calculus, chemistry, physics, etc.) at a lower cost than enrolling at the university.  Many universities have what are called “articulation agreements” that specify which classes at the community college transfer in at what credit level.  I say – go for your BS in EE!!! 

Jill S. Tietjen, P.E.

Hello Kala,

 You have asked some excellent questions. Engineers always have to consider cost, time, and labor when they think about their projects. For example, in my work, helping to select the new power plant for an electric utility, three cost factors are important – capital, operating and maintenance, and fuel. A car is a good analogy to a power plant. The capital cost is how much it costs to buy the car. The operating and maintenance cost is how much is costs to keep it in good repair – changing the oil, rotating the tires, fixing things when they break. The fuel cost is the gasoline. These power plants have to operate for around 30 years, so the costs to build, operate and fuel them are very important. 

Engineers often run projects and are thus very involved in the business aspect. The project has to become operational on time. It must be at or below budget. And it must be done with the human resources (labor) and equipment that are available or made available. I have a Masters in Business Administration in addition to my engineering degree. This has helped me be a manager and understand the finance and accounting side of the business – from income statements, to cash flow, to balance sheets.

Industrial engineers, like every other kind of engineer, encompass a wide variety of possible environments. The types of clothes they wear vary with the environment and the needs of their projects. 

One of my very favorite books to recommend to you is called “Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers” by Sybil Hatch. One of the industrial engineers featured in this book helped create and develop Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park in Florida. She traveled to water parks around the U.S. and studied layouts, rides and guest patterns to use in designing the Disney resort. (I bet she wore a bathing suite to work!) Another industrial engineer featured in that book designed a slide to help tiny shrimp and other marine life return to the ecosystem rather than get pulled into a pump drawing water for a power plant. Her inspiration for the low-friction device was fiberglass swimming pool slides. 

I’ve been an engineer for a long time – and I highly recommend engineering as a career for women!

Jill S. Tietjen

Hi Grace,

I am a graduate of the University of Virginia and believe that you can get an excellent engineering education at many institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For aerospace engineering in particular, your two choices are Virginia Tech and UVa, both excellent schools.

You should take as much math as you can in high school, through calculus if possible, and in the sciences, you should have biology, chemistry and physics.

Good luck!