Angie Schuler is the Director of Air Switchgear at S&C Electric Company where she manages the product lines of their overhead and underground air insulated switches. Founded in 1911, S&C is a global leader in solutions providing the protection and control of electrical power. Graduating from Marquette University with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, she has made her home at S&C for the past 17 years. Based in Chicago, Angie has led successful completion of numerous projects in different industries such as utilities, renewables and C&I (Commercial & Industrial). Along with her work life, Angie hopes to raise her two kids with her husband with the core values they can use to discover their own path in the world… though highly encouraging them to consider a STEM path!
As a kid, Angie would find herself solving logic puzzles or taking apart things to find out how they worked. She knew what she liked but did not know about the field of engineering until later in high school. After learning more about it, she decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. In university, Angie completed a co-op placement at Wisconsin Electric, an electric utility, following in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in energy. Upon graduation and with a recommendation from her past manager, Angie applied to and started her career at S&C and has never looked back since. Today she is still following her passion of problem solving while building her career at S&C.
Journey at S&C
Angie started her journey at S&C working as an Application Engineer. Angie emphasizes that being a new graduate and working in this role was probably the best start she could ever get. In this role, she was exposed to many aspects of the business. She worked with end customers, sales, production and the development team. Here, she built strong relationships with customers learning their concerns and advising them on how to use the product. At the same time, she had the chance to work on the manufacturing line working to test out the products and get her hands ‘dirty’. It was a great experience and the atmosphere was welcoming.
Since starting in this role, Angie has advanced into other roles at S&C. Most of her experience has been in a service-orientation role supporting customers using S&C’s Smart Grid products and helping them modernize their grids. A highlight was working on a consulting project for a customer in Hawaii. The power generation in Hawaii is tasked with transitioning into 100% renewable power by the year 2045. Angie and her team worked with the client to build a plan to help them reach this goal. She found this project very mentally stimulating – it was full of new problems to solve and had to be “future proof”. A large percentage of the renewable energy generation was currently and would continue to be rooftop solar. Because the rooftop solar is connected to the distribution system, it can potentially make the power system work opposite to how it was traditionally designed. A home that used to act as a load (uses energy) on the distribution system, now became a generator (produces energy), which causes the power to flow (how electricity moves throughout the grid) in the reverse direction. This was just one of the many technical challenges faced by the client to reach the goal of 100% renewable power. In the end S&C defined a five year, no regrets plan that addressed immediate concerns and would lay the foundation for the client to build on to reach their goal.
More recently, she has taken up a role as Director of Air Switchgear, which is in the Product Development team at S&C. She acts as the ‘product owner’ of air insulated underground and overhead switchgear products. She is learning more about the business, and finds this role a new challenge and an opportunity for development. It Is fun to be in a position where she gets to learn so much! As a product owner, Angie and her team manage their product’s life cycle from both an engineering and marketing standpoint. The energy industry is changing dramatically in terms of the customers needs and technologies available. She assesses where her product line is going and tries to ensure that they are able to serve customers for many years to come. In addition to creating new products, she has to think about how to keep her existing equipment working for the end user applications. More products are now automated and ‘smarter’ to adapt with the applications they are being used for.
Angie is proud that S&C is constantly looking for ways to improve its existing products while being innovative in its new product lines. In the case of renewable energy which has seen huge growth, S&C has worked with numerous customers to integrate solar and wind generation to the grid. In addition to the consulting and engineering work, S&C’s products are deployable for renewables and smart enough to consider things like changes in the power flow in the system.
The Professional Women’s Group - An S&C Diversity Initiative
At S&C, Angie is also the chair for the Professional Women’s Group. The group acts as a development and discussion platform for women at the company. Here they can network as well as find support and guidance to advance their career. Last year, the group started to get men involved in conversations and in hopes that it will help forge a more gender-balanced world. S&C celebrated International Women’s Day across all global locations this year and continue to advocate the #balanceforbetter campaign.
17 Years is not Enough
Having just completed 17 years with S&C, Angie is excited for her journey yet ahead. So what has kept her at S&C for such a long time? Well, Angie says that she feels like she is a part of a family. The people, the ‘open door’ policy and the company values have made her stick around. It also helps that every day at work she is technically challenged. She is forced to be innovative and work as a team to achieve a better product and experience for her customers.
For those who are considering careers in engineering, Angie has the following advise to give. Just go for it! Don’t be disheartened by the amount of workload you experience. The first two years of engineering school are challenging, but it is just a way to condition your brain to solve problems. Once you graduate, there is a wealth of opportunities just waiting for you. Engineering graduates launch their careers into several areas. You can become an analyst, engineer, lawyer or work in the corporate field. Even if you find out after you start school that engineering is not for you, at most schools the credits will easily transition to another degree, so what do you have to lose?!