This is the fourth profile in a series to introduce ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering 2014. Civil engineers are problem solvers who utilize sophisticated technologies to find solutions to the challenges facing society. Today, read about Julia Bower Green.
In a momentous decision, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted on February 9, 2012, to approve the construction and operation of 2 nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Burke County, Ga. They are the first nuclear reactors approved by the NRC since 1978. When completed in 2017 (Unit 3) and 2018 (Unit 4), the 2 new nuclear-powered electric generating plants will provide power to approximately half a million homes and businesses in Georgia.
For almost 3 years, Julia Bower Green, P.E., M.ASCE, worked for Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, as the civil engineer responsible for environmental compliance and permitting for the construction and operation of Vogtle Units 3 and 4.
“There are a lot of eyes on the safety and environmental aspects of this project,” says Green. “It is a historic, highly visible project, and Southern Nuclear is committed to the safety, quality, and long-term reliability of the facility.”
Of her time working on the project, Green added, “I don’t think one goes into the engineering profession because you think that it is going to be easy. You go into it because you enjoy solving problems and the challenges that come along with that. I am pretty proud of the fact that I can say I was part of a project that will not only provide clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy to half a million people, but is also utilizing new technology.”
For her efforts, Green was offered a position by Southern Company Services, Inc., a shared services division of Southern Company, as an engineer working on climate and environmental strategy.
“Southern Company owns four electric utilities in the Southeast – Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power – as well as Southern Power, a wholesale energy provider. Southern Company and its subsidiaries own and operate a diverse energy portfolio which includes hydro, solar, renewables, nuclear, coal, and gas, and my responsibility is to develop and communicate a system-wide environmental strategy for Southern Company’s coal and gas generating fleet,” explained Green, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in environmental engineering from Auburn University.
“Presently the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is proposing new rules to limit emissions, which heavily impacts the coal and gas electric generating industry. I am responsible for understanding and communicating these regulations as well as how they will impact our generating units, what technologies are available to reduce or eliminate emissions, how much it will cost to retrofit new technologies, or if we need to retire a plant.
“So in a nut-shell, my job is to develop a strategy to maintain compliance with all new environmental regulations.”
Active professionally, Green’s tenure as president of the ASCE Birmingham Branch Younger Member Group resulted in considerable growth and innovation for the group, including partnering with other professional organizations to form the Young Architects, Engineers and Constructors Council of Birmingham and the launching of 2 very successful outreach programs—Canstruction and Engineers Week. Last February, Green helped coordinate a 2-day E-Week event at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, which set a record with nearly 4,000 people in attendance.
Encouraging young people to consider a career in civil engineering, Green is also a mentor for Southern Company’s iCan girls engineering program and for the 100 Women Strong program at Auburn University.
“My parents were my inspiration to become an engineer,” confessed Green. “My dad was a math and science teacher. He always made learning math and science a game, and fun, even at home. They also taught me to dream big, while valuing the importance of working and learning. Because of the core lessons my parents taught me, I wanted to pursue a profession where I could continue learning and growing, while making a difference in the world. So, I became a civil engineer.”
As part of National Engineers Week, each of the 13 top national engineering societies nominate colleagues 30 years or younger for consideration as a DiscoverE New Face of Engineering. This highly coveted award is recognized as a top honor for young engineers by their peers in the engineering community. The DiscoverE Steering Committee has selected Green to serve as the ASCE 2014 New Faces of Engineering representative. During National Engineers Week 2014, Green will be featured amongst the other 12 young engineers in a USA Today advertisement and other DiscoverE public relations campaigns.
Next in the series, read about Jim Hambleton