Not all roads that lead to Pearl Engineering are the same. The Pearl Engineering team is comprised of many different backgrounds and levels of experience. Some are taking their first steps in their career.

Others, like Susan Rice, are long-time engineers with experience at the highest level.

Susan is in her 5th year as Pearl Engineering’s Senior Electrical Project Consultant and part of the leadership team, working out of the Appleton office. She heads up the electrical team, working alongside Steve Philips, collaborating with other department heads to organize and construct daily and weekly plans for Pearl’s projects.

She has also taken on aiding Jeff Pearl with marketing, helping to keep Pearl Engineering a constant presence over social media and being the face of the company at different events.

Although not having a background in marketing, Susan has discovered she genuinely enjoys this new challenge. She attributes this to her open and out-going personality – something that is sometimes rare in the world of engineering.

“I always had a love of math and science and thought I would be an engineer or a high school math teacher. So, I had that aspect, but I also grew up in a big family and as youngest, was pretty outgoing. I guess I’m more social than most engineers.”

Although Susan got her degree in Mechanical Engineering, she has spent her entire career working in Electrical Engineering. One of the biggest reasons for the switch? She developed an interest in Dynamic Systems, “putting the puzzle pieces together” in areas related to vibrations, noise control and acoustic analysis.

That, and the fact that she landed a job out of college at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Yeah, that NASA.

“NASA was such a great experience,” she said. “It was like working on a campus full of incredibly talented engineers.

“I went into the interview not wanting to get the job because I would need to relocate – but figured it would be a good practice interview. It was my first post-college interview and I, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to bring my textbooks with me.”

Bringing the textbooks actually ended up paying off as, in addition to nailing the interview, one of the interviewers knew one of the professors from Michigan Tech that she had studied under.

Heat Trace

One area that Susan regularly works in is Heat Trace. Heat Trace is the external application of heat to pipes, tanks, and vessels to maintain their temperature.

Its applications are numerous and can be applied to commercial, industrial and residential construction in the form of downspouts, sump pump drains, utility piping, process piping, and much more.

The Freeze Protection Heat Trace method is when heat trace comes in physical contact and runs the length of the pipe.  Multiple heat tapes may be used on the same pipe to reach the desired temperature value.  The heat trace is controlled by a temperature sensor or thermostat using setpoints to prohibit freezing.  End seals are used to visually see if your process is working.  In Pearl Engineering’s line of work, this method is typically used for downspouts, drains, and exterior water piping.

Digital controllers and monitoring system are used when heat trace systems need to remain within a specific temperature range to optimize the process.  These systems often indicate alarm conditions that can be integrated into the Main Plant controls and alarming systems.

Heat Trace can also be used in more complex systems that need to change physical states, ex. from a liquid to a vapor. This is known as “Super Heating.”

About Susan

After her time at NASA, she wanted to return to the Midwest to be closer to family, where she was eventually introduced to Jeff. The rest is history.

Having worked for NASA and other larger organizations, Susan prefers the pace and style of Pearl Engineering.

“Pearl is indeed smaller, but that just means everyone has to wear more hats and step up their game,” she said. “I really love the challenge. I have always been one to volunteer. Project management is my passion and the opportunity to step into a marketing role has been great.”

From Kingsford, Michigan, Susan is the youngest of three brothers and a sister who are still close to home and spends lots of time with.

Susan loves spending time outside being out and about. She’s an avid golfer – which comes in handy for events put on by and participated in by Pearl – and is a member of several leagues. She also enjoys boating, swimming, tennis, snowmobiling and motorcycling.

If you are in need of creative solutions, let Susan and the rest of the team at Pearl Engineering be the answer.