In Spotlights

Rupam SinglaRupam is currently a technical lead in the Energy Efficiency Standards Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL). At LBNL, Rupam works with the Department of Energy to develop energy efficiency standards and test procedures for residential and commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Prior to LBNL, Rupam worked at Taylor Engineering where she designed energy-efficient HVAC systems for commercial buildings. Rupam is a Registered Mechanical Engineer with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. During graduate school, Rupam volunteered as an engineer to improve the design of locally built and used solar ovens in a Nicaraguan village, working with other engineers and a local women’s organization.

How did you become involved in your current career?

I have always been drawn to work that brings positive impact on society. When I was younger, I thought that meant working directly with people. When I moved out to California in 2006 for grad school, I realized the vast amount of technical opportunity for environmental work. My first hands-on environmental work was in Nicaragua when I worked on solar ovens with Engineers for a Sustainable World during summer 2007. I experienced and enjoyed the large intersection of technical work and societal benefit. I like problems that are technically challenging, and after grad school I started my career path in energy efficiency. I have been delving deeper and deeper into the cross-section of socially and environmentally responsible technical projects ever since.

What environmental issues are of most concern to you?

I am very interested in the growing demand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). As quality of life is improving for more and more people globally, particularly in developing countries, the demand for HVAC and other modern comforts is increasing. It will be a tremendous challenge to provide air conditioning to more people while achieving global targets for emissions reductions. I am very interested in the regulations and the innovations that will occur to meet this challenge.

What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?

In all of the organizations that I have worked for, there has been a noticeable lack of technical women in high-level positions. This has been a challenge for me because I have often found it difficult to relate to my superiors. Despite growing numbers of women in technical fields, I am often the only woman or one of a few women in a given meeting at conferences. As a woman, I often find it challenging to be seen as a real technical contributor. By supporting and encouraging each other, we can change this.