Suzanne Tegen is the wind and water deployment manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center. She researches the intersection between wind power, communities, wildlife, and economics and studies the domestic wind and water power workforces. Suzanne is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Colorado at Boulder where she attained her bachelor of arts in German literature, bachelor of science in environmental science and her Ph.D. in energy policy.
1.) What inspired you to work in STEM?
I was lucky enough to be in Berlin in 1989 when the Wall came down. We could see through to what used to be East Germany and I saw all of the buildings so badly damaged from the pollution. I made a promise to myself back then that I’d do what I could to find solutions to air pollution, for the good of people everywhere, animals, and nature.
2.) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?
I believe that my work on renewable energy can help solve problems like childhood asthma, energy poverty, and pollution, leading to a healthier world. The best part of my job is the people at the National Renewable Energy Lab; they are so dedicated to the clean energy mission that they lighten what can feel like a heavy lift of finding solutions for cleaner power.
3.) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
We need a multi-faceted approach – at the CEO offices, at your neighbor’s house, in Hollywood, and starting in preschool. My daughters don’t think science and math are for boys, but if trends continue, they might when they’re in middle school. Having a more diverse team at the top has been shown to benefit a company financially, and girls need science, math, and technology to get to the top. There needs to be more fact-based training about how serious this issue is for business leaders, government officials, game designers, and teachers.
4.) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
I highly recommend traveling, if that’s possible. Living in different cultures or visiting people who live differently than you’re used to changes you and makes you better able to understand people outside your situation. Take science, economics and statistics classes, and learn how things are connected. Challenge yourself. And come on in! We need more people who care about making the world a better place.
5.) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
Outside of work, I volunteer for a great organization called the Women of Wind Energy. I love camping and gardening with my kids. I also like to travel and go on hikes with my dog.