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Boston University Student, Jessica Gimbel, LEAPs into Clean Energy
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Boston University Student, Jessica Gimbel, LEAPs into Clean Energy image

Jessica Gimbel joins Zapotec Energy this spring through the MassCEC Internship Program, kicking off her work as an engineer in the solar industry. Jessica is in the midst of a major career change. For the last five years, Jessica has worked as a trauma ICU nurse; currently, Jessica is on track to become a mechanical engineer.

In 2016, Jessica decided to pursue a MS in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University through the Late-Entry Accelerated Program (LEAP). The LEAP program is an opportunity for professionals with non-engineering backgrounds to earn a Master’s degree in engineering based on their unique interests. “I chose BU specifically for LEAP, which has turned out to be an excellent decision,” says Jessica.  LEAP students have a wide variety of professional experience: music, writing, neuroscience, marketing, diplomacy and more. This diversity, combined with the fact that the average age of students is 27, creates space for a number of different perspectives within the program.

“I do not believe that a person needs to pick one career and settle with that decision for the rest of his or her life,” says Jessica as she reflects on her decision to apply for LEAP. “If you are curious about and motivated by a different field, then why not try it? A world filled with inspired and motivated people is a far happier and more productive place.”

Working with Zapotec Energy is not Jessica’s first time participating in the MassCEC Internship Program. In fact, since being enrolled at BU, she also completed an internship working with HVAC systems and evaluating energy-saving devices for air conditioning units and refrigerators. Although she learned the importance of energy efficiency initiatives with this experience, there was something inside of Jessica that was driving her towards renewable energy.

“I fiercely believe that we have a responsibility to protect our natural spaces from anthropogenic effects,” explains Jessica. “Climbing in the mountains or hiking in a forest is where I feel most at peace,” she continues, “and these experiences must be available to future generations.”

While at Zapotec Energy this spring, Jessica’s main goal is to become familiar with the day-to-day functions of the business and its employees. She hopes to learn as much as she can from the other engineers in the office, so she can soon perform those daily tasks on her own. For instance, Jessica has been learning how to use HelioScope, a solar design software, to create advanced models for commercial and residential solar PV systems. In order to use HelioScope, Jessica recognized that she needed to develop an understanding of each component’s function and size— everything from the choosing a panel to determining how to interconnect the PV system to the electric grid. Jessica is also gaining experience using financial models and troubleshooting existing systems, as well as learning how a solar design company, such as Zapotec Energy, interacts with other types of solar companies in the industry.

So far, Jessica has been most inspired by the enormous amount of creativity that goes into the development of renewable energy technology. She is reassured by thousands of engineers, like herself, that are dedicated to one common goal. In Jessica’s opinion, “engineering is the most well-equipped field to come up with the technology and solutions needed to combat climate change.”


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