Advancing Careers Through Association Leadership
Karen Schulte, PE, CPD, joined Mueller Associates in 2006 after interning here while she was a student at Penn State University. She has designed plumbing systems for many major projects for the firm and leads the Women of ASPE for the Baltimore chapter of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers. On Point talked to Karen about her association leadership and her career development at Mueller.
Q: What led you to specialize in engineering plumbing systems?
A: In the Architectural/Engineering program at Penn State, I focused on mechanical engineering and HVAC design. We didn’t have a plumbing engineering class. But once I started at Mueller, I had an opportunity to learn both HVAC and plumbing engineering. I think the opportunity to design both disciplines helps you become a better mechanical engineer. We’re all trying to use the same space in the building as we design systems, so the coordination is important.
Q: You’ve had a chance to become involved with ASPE. How has that helped your career?
A: ASPE has really helped me in my career development in plumbing engineering. They have monthly meetings with technical sessions for continuing education. These sessions really further your education and introduce you to new technology. I’ve been attending these meetings for several years now.
Q: You’ve recently become more active in local ASPE leadership. What opportunities have you had?
A: Jeff Edwards, who is Mueller’s chief of plumbing and fire protection and serves as president of our local chapter of ASPE, asked me to head up Women of ASPE for the Baltimore Chapter. Our chapter didn’t have Women of ASPE so I was pleased to start this group. It’s been an important networking and support group. We’ve had good turnout at our events and I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie. We have both engineers and product representatives take part. I also had the opportunity to attend the ASPE national conference in Atlanta recently. There was a day dedicated to the Women of ASPE, with speakers addressing diversity and professional development. It was great to get their take on things, and it gave me ideas for events we could do locally.
Women of ASPE Paint Night
Q: What project stands out for you at Mueller? What has been interesting to work on?
A: The Bird House at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., has been fascinating. It’s been interesting to approach the project knowing that the most important occupant is not the public, it’s the birds. As an engineer, you have to change your mindset. We’ve needed to create the best living environment for the birds, with extensive plumbing systems. The birds need filtered and tempered water sources, while on the public side, we also need to supply a domestic potable water system. It’s just starting construction. I’ve learned a lot on this one—it’s been incredibly interesting.