On the final day of virtual presentations for the 2020 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC), Jessica Davis, leader of the Tuskegee University Collegiate Wind Team’s siting sub-team, faced a remote panel of judges entirely on her own. Her presentation partner, who was in the military, had been called up for duty only a few days before.
She was unfazed. For Davis, who graduated from Tuskegee University in spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, stepping up to get the job done comes naturally.
“I’m typically inclined to take a leadership role, especially with group projects,” said Davis. “I want to make sure everything goes well and that we get the results we want.”
Davis found out about the CWC in fall 2019, when the Tuskegee University engineering department held a meeting about the competition. Davis enthusiastically joined and led her team in developing a site plan and cost of energy analysis for a 100-megawatt wind farm in the high-wind environment of eastern Colorado. Davis and her team researched different counties in the region, accounting for factors like population size, geography, climate, and local wildlife, eventually creating a plan and analysis for a wind farm in Yuma County, Colorado.
As newcomers to the CWC, the Tuskegee team faced a steep learning curve. When the Tuskegee campus closed and the CWC moved to a virtual format in spring 2020, Davis held her team to their timeline, helped find alternatives to in-person meetings and shared laboratory space, modified the team’s deliverables for virtual presentation, and helped bring new members up to speed.
“The thing I enjoyed most about the CWC was that it was challenging,” said Davis. “It taught me that I can adapt and work well under pressure.”
In July 2020, Davis began working at the DOE Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where she applies the engineering, analysis, and project management experience she developed during the CWC to her new job in nuclear security. Through the Career ONE job rotation program for new college graduates, Davis will work in various positions to see which engineering specialty best fits her interests and strengths. After a year, she’ll have the option to take a permanent job at the company.
As she looks to the future and reflects on her past experience, she hopes to see more young people like herself seize opportunities that will help prepare them for careers in the wind and energy industries.
“Never shy away from a challenge,” she advised. “If you’re interested in something, reach out and make that connection so you can fulfill your goals.”