This Stevens Institute of Technology student majored in engineering

Many teenagers get jobs at a restaurant or retail store, but Megan Dion started her engineering career early. At age 16, he worked part-time at FXB, a mechanical, electrical and plumbing company in Chadds Ford, Pa., where he helped create and optimize project designs.

He continued with the company during his first year as an undergraduate at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, where he is studying electrical engineering with a concentration in the energy sector. Now, the younger Dion is part of Stevens’ five-year cooperative education program, which allows her to hold three full-time jobs between the second quarter of the school year and August. He returns to school full-time in September with an even more impressive resume.

For his academic achievements, Dion received an IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship this year. The PES Scholarship Plus Initiative honors undergraduate students who are likely to one day create green technologies and change the way energy is produced and used. Dion received $2,000 for her education.

He says he looks forward to connecting with other fellows and IEEE members.

“Learning from other people’s stories and seeing myself in them and where my career might be in 10 or 15 years,” she says.

Gaining hands-on experience in the energy sector

Dion’s early exposure to engineering came from his father, who owned a commercial electrical construction business for 20 years, and sparked his interest in the field. He brought him to meetings and taught him in the field of construction.

He was then able to gain work experience at FXB, where he quickly absorbed what he observed around him.

“I carried a notebook everywhere and took notes on everything,” he says. “My team knew they would never have to explain something to me twice.”

“If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”

He gained the trust of his colleagues, and they asked him to continue working with them while he attended college. He accepted the offer and supported the firm’s important project. Designing an underground power distribution and pipeline to replace overhead power lines in the US Virgin Islands. An underground system can minimize power loss after storms.

Proficient in AutoCAD software, he contributed to electrical design. Dion worked directly with the senior electrical designer and company president, and he assisted with status updates. The experience, he says, solidified his decision to become an energy engineer.

After completing his stint at FXB, he landed his first job placement through Stevens, which brought him to the Long Island Rail Road, New York, Kansas City-based infrastructure design firm HNTB. He completed an eight-month assignment at the LIRR assisting the traction power and communications team with the design of the DC electrical system for a major capacity improvement project for the New York metropolitan rail system.

Working on the railroad was out of his comfort zone, he says, but he was up for the challenge.

“I was in shock at my first meeting with the firm,” he says. “I was looking at the train tracks and had to ask someone from the team to walk me through everything I needed to know, right down to the basics.”

Dion describes how they spent two hours going through a third of each type of drawing, including rail sectioning, negative return diagrams and pipe routing. Each sheet covered a 15 to 30 meter 3.2 kilometer section.

What Dion valued most about the job placement program, he said, was the knowledge of the niche areas of electricity and electrical engineering.

He is currently in his second position at the structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti in New York, where he practices forensic engineering. The role interests him because it focuses on investigating what went wrong when an engineering project went awry.

“My father taught me to be 1 percent better every day.”

“It’s a career path I never knew about before,” he says. Thornton Tomasetti investigates when something goes wrong during construction, determines who is at fault, and provides expert testimony in court.

Dion joined IEEE in 2020 to build its engineering network. He is set to graduate from Stevens next year and then plans to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering while working full-time.

The importance of leadership and business skills

To round out his expertise and experience in the electrical and energy industry, Dion is taking business courses. He believes that one day he may follow in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps.

“My dad is my biggest supporter and also my biggest competitor,” she says. “He’ll always ask me, ‘Why?’ to challenge my thinking and help me be the best I can be. He taught me to be 1 percent better every day.” He adds that he can go to him when he has engineering questions because of his decades of experience in the field.

She says that because of her background, growing up in the electrical industry, she felt less intimidated when she was the only woman at the meeting. She finds being a woman in a male-dominated industry an opportunity, she says, adding that there is a lot of support and camaraderie among women in the industry.

With academic excellence, she is also a starter on the Stevens varsity volleyball team. He has been involved in sports since the seventh grade. He says his athletic background has taught him important skills, including how to lead by example and the importance of ensuring the entire team is supported and works well together.

Dion’s competitive nature won’t let him hold back.

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