Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - Coal Combustion Residuals Groundwater Senior Program Manager
Veronica Barredo was born in Mexico, and at the age of 3 her father moved the family to a passion fruit farm in Venezuela. Veronica and her family lived in Venezuela for about 7 years. She came to the United States in 1996, at the age of 9, without speaking a word of English. She saw math as a “common language” that was universal. Her love of math took her to the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, where she graduated in Civil Engineering. Veronica was one of two women engineering graduates in the class of 2008. In 2015 Veronica received her Professional Engineering License. In 2020 she completed her graduate school work while being a working professional and received a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Central Florida.
Veronica began a career as an engineering consultant in the dam safety industry, primarily engaged in the construction of dam remediation projects. She supported major rehabilitation efforts at TVA’s Bear Creek Dam and Blue Ridge Dam, designs and construction of upgrades and repairs to several smaller water resource structures, with a short assignment at the Panama Canal Expansion.
In 2019, Veronica joined the Tennessee Valley Authority and assumed responsibilities for construction engineering at the Boone Dam Seepage Mitigation project. The project has received several awards by Technical and Professional Societies, and she was an integral part of the winning team. Veronica was the onsite engineer on the TVA Generation Construction team and was responsible for providing onsite technical support for construction including oversight of the technical and engineering aspects of the Contractors work. The project was completed on time and under budget, and the remediation demonstrated successful performance during the refilling of the reservoir. These work efforts coupled with her engagement in the community and in mentoring college students were recognized and she was named the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year by the United States Society on Dams. In 2022, she was a nominated as the TVA Generation Projects and Feet Services 2022 Engineer of the Year.
Upon completion of the Boone Dam Project, Veronica was asked to oversee the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCRs) groundwater sampling and maintenance program at TVA and has implemented the project to ensure data integrity.
When she is not working, she is enjoying family time with her two wonderful children.
Work Philosophy: “It can’t be considered success if you are not smiling.” Veronica believes that it’s important to enjoy your career and job duties.
Best Advice for Students: Bring your authentic self to work/school. Being honest with who you are, and understanding yourself will make you perform better and allow you to identify your passions a lot easier.
Veronica Would Like to Mentor: A student who can take the driver’s seat when developing the mentoring relationship. In other words, she would like to mentor someone who will be willing to communicate their development needs so that she can support the student in areas that they need help with.
Dr. Deborah Mudali
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
Dr. Deborah Mudali is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science at UTC, imparting her knowledge and experience as an academician and researcher. Holding a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), her expertise lies in applying Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to health medical data, showcasing her dedication to using technology for the betterment of society. Driven by her passion for forging connections, Dr. Mudali's vibrant and approachable personality emphasizes the transformative power of building relationships for personal and professional growth. Her unique ability to blend her love for movies with socializing has not only allowed her to hang out with friends but also create new and meaningful friendships along the way.
While pursuing her academic endeavors, Dr. Mudali maintains an unwavering enthusiasm for aerobics, recognizing its role in maintaining an active and energized lifestyle. However, as a devoted new mother, she gracefully juggles her responsibilities, understanding the importance of prioritizing her children's needs while effectively managing her time. This harmonious balance exemplifies her unwavering commitment to both her career and her family, exemplifying her ability to cultivate a fulfilling personal life alongside her professional pursuits.
Work Philosophy: The ever-evolving nature of computer science requires professionals to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies. I embrace curiosity, explore new ideas, and am always open to lifelong learning.
Best Advice for Students: Fearlessly seek assistance when faced with challenges. Reach out to professors, advisors, or classmates when you encounter difficulties. Seeking assistance is a sign of strength, and it can lead to valuable insights and solutions. Embrace the learning process, stay motivated, and believe in your abilities. With dedication, perseverance, and a passion for learning, you can achieve your goals and excel in your academic journey.
Deborah Would Like to Mentor: Students who possess an unwavering eagerness to push boundaries, embrace creativity, collaborate with peers, and consistently challenge themselves.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) – Director, Nuclear Regulatory Affairs
Kim Hulvey is Director of Nuclear Regulatory Affairs for TVA. Kim was previously the Senior Manager of Design and Procurement Engineering. Her diverse background includes nuclear fleet and site leadership roles. Kim previously held roles of Senior Manager of Fleet Licensing and Manager of Watts
Bar Site Licensing, before earning her Senior Reactor Operator certification. Prior to her Licensing leadership roles, she was Manager of Watts Bar Reactor Engineering. She began her TVA career in 2010 as a nuclear core designer and her nuclear career started at Progress Energy in 2008 as a system engineer.
Kim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a member of Women in Nuclear (WIN), serves as the Chair for the TVA WIN chapter, has a passion for inclusion with diversity and is involved with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives.
Work Philosophy: My philosophy toward work is to be a part of something I believe in and work hard even if the task is challenging or unknown. I believe in asking questions and leaning on my peers and teams to learn and grow.
Best Advice for Students: Ask questions and be curious.
Kim Would Like to Mentor: A student that values communication and transparency. I want a mentee that accepts feedback and gives feedback to me. A mentoring pairing should be based on a trusting relationship that is built from the start.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) – Director, Enterprise Analytics & Innovation
Jessica has worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for over 20 years across a variety of organizations and functions. Her prior leadership roles included load and revenue forecasting, long-term utility system planning, economic business case analysis, organizational performance programs, and technology vendor management and sourcing in both operational and support organizations across the company. She is currently in TVA’s Technology & Innovation organization as the Director of data governance & management, business intelligence, analytics, and Digital Centers of Excellence functions. She and her team partner with employees across TVA to enable the business to harness the power of technology and innovation to drive improvements in their daily work. This includes accessing and leveraging data, using advanced analytical methods, automation and productivity solutions, and emerging innovative technology like robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). She is a proud Chattanooga MOC with a BS in Economics and an MBA both from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Jessica has called the Chattanooga-area home for over 25 years. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and reading classic literature. She finds cooking a way to relax and bring order after a long day and she continues to hone her skills and share her food with others. Jessica is a dedicated Hamilton County election registrar, holds leadership roles in her church, and has been a mentor with the TNAchieves program for several years.
Work Philosophy: Be the leader you always wanted to work for, create space for everyone and their ideas, don’t take yourself too seriously, and never say ‘it’s not my job.’
Best Advice for Students: Find balance across the things you love that give you energy, keep an open mind, have a plan but stay flexible, focus on relationships and people.
Jessica Would Like to Mentor: A student who is open-minded, curious, hard-working, and driven to achieve their dreams.
Invisible Technologies - Principal Software Engineer & Tech Lead Manager
A Chattanooga native, Emily was encouraged to explore engineering from a young age. Feeling more like a creative than an engineer, she was very apprehensive. Instead, she found an interest in web design in high school through taking courses at Chattanooga State Community College. With a newfound passion she continued to explore, and with time it led her to pursue a Computer Science degree from UTC to be able to make those designs and experiences come to life.
While in school, Emily interned at a local startup, Bellhop, eventually becoming a full-time engineer and later an engineering manager. Through her internship, she was able to find her niche in front-end development and user experience engineering. Through developing her engineering skills, she found herself equally enjoying mentoring and guiding engineering teams to delivery. Very soon, she was able to make the goal to work at a Silicon Valley startup come true - managing a full stack product engineering team at Iterable. Now she is a Principal Engineer at Invisible, getting to be a software engineer and a manager, and being at the forefront of rapidly evolving AI technologies.
Work Philosophy: Never be above getting your hands dirty, the world needs more doers.
Best Advice for Students: Don’t be scared that you don’t know everything, the truth is no one does! All your future co-workers use Google 10x times a day. Instead, learn how to be humble, honest, and always hungry to understand more.
Emily Would Like to Mentor: Someone who considers themselves creative and a problem solver, someone who is questioning where they might fit into the workplace or into a role as an engineer.
MBI Companies – Intern Architect
Susan Santos is an Intern Architect at MBI Companies where she works designing and managing projects varying from commercial, industrial, K-12 and Higher education. Susan is originally from Brazil and, after high school, she decided to pursue double major in Architecture and Computer Science. During her senior year, she put her architecture education on hold and moved to Chattanooga to focus on completing her BS in Computer Science at UTC. During the first part of her career, she worked as a Software Developer, Database Administrator, and, eventually, as a Team Lead.
After eleven years in the IT industry, Susan took a professional break and focused on raising her young kids. By the time she was ready to return to the workforce, she decided to complete her architecture education and pursued a master’s in architecture, graduating in May 2020. Susan currently works for an architecture firm in Chattanooga while pursuing her architectural license. She has also started teaching as an Adjunct Professor at the Engineering and Interiors departments at UTC. Susan enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and daughter, reading, and volunteering at her church.
Work Philosophy: Continue to learn, identify your strengths, collaborate with those that are experts on your weaknesses and learn from them. Respect everyone, working towards the success of the team.
Best Advice to Students: Be open to learning lessons from each phase in life, knowing that they are preparing you for the steps ahead.
Susan Would Like to Mentor: A Computer Science or Construction Management student who is curious, open to listen and explore new possibilities, and willing to look at the bigger picture, particularly how her unique gifts and knowledge could be used to positively impact the community around her.
Southern Champion Tray (SCT) – Manufacturing Engineer
Rebecca Hope is a Manufacturing Engineer for Southern Champion Tray, where they manufacture paper board products such as doughnut boxes, drink carriers, biscuit trays, etc. As a manufacturing engineer she supports efficient production scheduling and coordination, process improvements, and leads the plants safety team.
Prior to joining SCT, Rebecca’s love for manufacturing developed during her college years as she interned at various manufacturing companies in Chattanooga. Overall, Rebecca has over 4 years of experience in various engineering departments in manufacturing. She worked as a Production Engineering Co-Op for Denso Manufacturing (an automotive supplier), where she focused on product quality, data analysis and automation, and prototyping. She then worked as an industrial engineering intern for Plastic Omnium (an automotive supplier), where she supported scrap reduction, new procedure documentation, and continuous improvement. She also learned how to weld through this internship! After that, she worked as a CI/Quality Engineering Intern for ASTEC (asphalt equipment & infrastructure), where she supported value stream mapping, developed training tools, built data dashboards, and created plant layouts. Rebecca has a love for learning and all things manufacturing!
When Rebecca is not at work, she enjoys spending her free time hiking, playing board games, and trying new recipes!
Work Philosophy: Always work to improve and grow in any position, do not stay stagnant.
Best Advice for Students: Success is a process and never a single event. Mistakes are unavoidable, always look at them as learning opportunities.
Rebecca Would Like to Mentor: Any student with a positive outlook, who is enthusiastic about learning and growing in their career or wanting to develop new skills for success!
Electric Power Board (EPB) – Recruiting & Technical Specialist
Blair's journey began with her graduation from Auburn University, where she earned a BS in Management Information Systems (MIS). Since joining EPB in 2002, she has dedicated more than half her life to the company—an accomplishment that seems unfathomable yet serves as a testament to her unwavering commitment. EPB is truly an amazing place to work, providing an enriching environment for professionals like Blair.
Initially starting as a network engineer during EPB Fiber Optics' early days of reselling AT&T services, Blair's career blossomed in tandem with the company's growth. She transitioned into a pivotal role as a systems engineer, supporting the intricate backend infrastructure that powers Chattanooga's world-renowned internet. Her deep understanding of these systems and her firsthand experience have uniquely equipped her to comprehend the requirements that hiring managers seek when recruiting technical personnel.
In recent years, Blair has directed her focus towards the human aspect of her work. In 2020, an opportunity arose for her to embark on a new journey within EPB's Human Resources department as a recruiter. Eager to expand her horizons and make a meaningful impact, Blair embraced this role with enthusiasm. Now entrusted with the responsibility of hiring technical professionals, she leverages her hands-on experience to comprehend the intricacies and expectations of hiring managers.
Blair's dedication extends beyond her professional pursuits. Prior to the pandemic, she took the initiative to launch a Girls Who Code class for middle-schoolers at CGLA. This rewarding experience provides a nurturing environment where young minds can explore and develop their coding skills, igniting their passion for technology.
During her leisure time, Blair immerses herself in various activities. She finds solace and joy in cycling, dedicating a significant portion of her spare time to this pursuit. Additionally, she embarks on adventures with her partner, with whom she has shared a remarkable 24-year journey. Engaging in boot camp-style workouts, indulging in reading, tending to her garden, and staying up to date on technical subjects further enrich her multifaceted lifestyle. (And because she knows her limitations and embraces new technology, this bio was ‘written’ by ChatGPT, but based on her own words.)
Work Philosophy: Be open to feedback, unafraid to speak up, and admit when you don't know something.
Best advice to students: step outside your comfort zone whenever possible and recognize that embracing new challenges can be a catalyst for personal and professional development.
Blair Would Like to Mentor: Any student who possesses curiosity, a strong work ethic, and an eagerness to learn and grow.
Google - Site Operations Manager
Karrin Ridley is the Global Server Operations, Site Operations Manager at Google’s Data Center in Bridgeport, Alabama. She leads a team of Operations Managers and Data Center Technicians to deliver and maintain critical data center infrastructure. Karrin began her Google career in January 2019 as a Data Center Technician, and worked her way up to a management position, and eventually GSO Site Operations Manager.
Karrin was raised in a rural town about 45 minutes from Chattanooga and acquired an AAS and an AS degree from Northeast Alabama Community College before graduating from Athens State University with a BS in Computer Science. She discovered her interest in and aptitude for technology while taking an Intro to Computer Science course at NACC. During her time at Google, she has worked in hardware maintenance and with software engineering teams before advancing into management. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Work Philosophy: A strong work ethic is essential for success in any career. Never turn down an opportunity to improve yourself.
Best Advice for Students: Give your best at all times. Be resourceful and willing to learn. Success comes from hard work and dedication to achieving your goals.
Karrin Would Like to Mentor: A highly motivated student who is excited about learning and developing new skills. She believes that these are the qualities that are essential for success in any career. She would be happy to share her knowledge and experience with a student who is eager to learn and grow.
KCH Transportation – Systems Security Engineer
Lilly is a Systems Security Engineer for KCH Transportation which, essentially, means she is responsible for building out the entire IT Stack for KCH as well as monitoring its security and implementing remediations as quickly and painlessly as possible. Lilly was the very first IT person that KCH hired and was responsible for building the entire IT department. Every person on her team was handpicked and she has dedicated herself to providing growth opportunities for each team member.
Although Cyber Security is now Lilly’s passion, her undergraduate career was focused on Politics and Philosophy, and she still enjoys analyzing the political landscape as it develops. It wasn’t until she was an IT Student Assistant at her alma mater, California State University San Marcos, that she found she loved solving the technical puzzles that come with being an IT professional. Lilly has worked her way up from being a student worker to her current managerial role and is passionate about sharing the knowledge that has driven her success.
Work Philosophy: It sounds cheesy, but you do have to find what you love to do and choose that as your profession. You’ll never work a day in your life. It’s hard work, takes time and requires a lot of self-reflection, but it is so worth it. I promise.
Best Advice for Students: Know thyself.
Lilly Would Like to Mentor: A student who is genuinely curious about IT and wants to improve their technical skills. Someone who loves to challenge the norm and provides space for everyone to be who they are.