#Eweek2021 Spotlight | Raelynn Meissner
Putting the green in engineering
For National Engineers Week 2021, we’re sharing stories from Cushing Terrell’s engineering talent to learn more about how they chose their profession and what makes them tick.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
My dad! He’s a petroleum engineer. Plus, I was a natural at science and math in school. Originally, I had planned to pursue a degree in architecture because I’ve always loved buildings and how they are designed and built. My dad convinced me if I went for an engineering degree first, I would know more about the mechanics behind buildings and be a better architect for it. And here I am today! My expertise crosses both disciplines, which is perfect for my work at Cushing Terrell.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
I chose to pursue an architectural engineering degree from the University of Wyoming with an emphasis in mechanical system design. I’ve always loved architecture and when I was looking at colleges, I discovered an architectural engineering degree was an option. Once in the program, I realized I loved designing the systems side more than the structural side. Today, I’m a licensed professional engineer, a LEED and Green Globes accredited professional, and a founding member of our Green Advocacy Council, which works to prioritize sustainable design practices at our firm.
Tell us something about the field of engineering that is surprising or not common knowledge.
Engineers are problem solvers who come up with technical solutions for challenges in our built environment. Also, while heavy in science and math, engineering still requires considerable people and communication skills to be successful in your career. It feels great to bring people to the table and help them gain insight into how things work “behind the curtain.” Those “aha” moments with clients and team members are priceless.
What is one of your favorite projects and why?
The Dr. Charles Morledge Science Building at Rocky Mountain College in Billings was both a rewarding and complex project with all the different lab spaces and ventilation requirements. We utilized a chilled beam system and re-circulating filtered hoods and were able to deliver a very energy efficient building. It is one of our AIA 2030 Commitment top projects demonstrating energy performance. Additionally, I love that the building blends in with the aesthetic of campus while still looking modern and new.
What piece of advice would you give a young person interested in becoming an engineer?
Take all of the science and math classes you can going through school. And if you love to be a problem solver, this is the perfect field for you.
Are you involved in any activities that help engage students/young people in engineering?
I’ve been a member of the local ASHRAE chapter for years, and we work closely with the student chapter at Montana State University. In the past, our chapter has visited schools in Billings to present on engineering careers and demonstrate engineering principles. I’ve also helped with the Girls in Science activities with my Cushing Terrell team members. My current focus is passing on my passion for engineering to my two kids. We do lots of STEM projects and experiments at home, especially last spring during quarantine from school!
Raelynn at a glance
- Mechanical Engineer
- Living in Billings, Montana
- Defining characteristics: Encouraging, kind, hardworking, dependable
- Interests: Reading, gardening, quilting, camping, and exploring with the family on our side-by-side
- Member of the Cushing Terrell Green Advocacy Council