Driving Innovation

A chat with a ComEd engineer: Advancing energy solutions, inspiring the next generation of innovators

February 23, 2021

To celebrate the important work of engineers, while engaging the next generation of STEM talent, the National Society of Professional Engineers founded Engineers Week which, this year, takes place Feb. 21-27.

From developing medical technology to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 to creating solutions to eliminate pollution, engineers touch many aspects of our lives.

ComEd Engineer Terrika Worthon is no exception. Worthon reflects on her career journey in the STEM field and the ways she helps inspire the next generation of innovators.

Describe your current role at ComEd?

Worthon: I work in ComEd’s distribution standards department and provide technical support on overhead equipment. I work with people inside and outside the company to research and evaluate the equipment our crews use in the field to help deliver reliable power to families and businesses.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

Worthon: I always had a love for engineering and did very well in math and science. After meeting with my high school counselor to plan for college, she noticed I was always taking advanced class offerings in math and science and suggested I explore it as a career option. After researching engineering, the rest is history!

Where did you go to school and what was your major?

Worthon: I attended Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where I majored in mechanical engineering. I later obtained my master’s in business administration from there too.

What is your favorite thing about being an engineer?

Worthon: My favorite thing about being an engineer is problem-solving. As an engineer, I can use my skills as a natural problem solver to help my colleagues resolve issues in the field. Some can be challenging to solve but, once the resolution is reached, it is a great accomplishment to know I was able to make an impact.

Women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM. How do you help bridge that gap?

Worthon: Representation is so important, and my goal is to always create a space where students feel comfortable asking me questions and learning about engineering. I know that seeing and meeting an engineer that shares the same or similar background as them makes their plans even more tangible. Developing future STEM leaders is so important to advance engineering and find innovations to solve world problems. They truly are our future. We need them.

Why is being a mentor to students important to you?

Worthon: I am a huge advocate of mentoring not only future engineers, but the youth. I’ve taken part in several mentoring programs since being at ComEd, including Stay in School, Solar SpotlightIcebox Derby and STEM panels.  The students always come in with so much energy and ambition, and I truly feel it is my job to encourage them to go after their dreams with that same energy.

For anyone wanting to pursue a career in STEM, what advice can you offer?

Worthon: I would strongly encourage them to go for it. There will be challenges along the way but, always remember, anything worth having takes hard work. For the young women and underrepresented minorities, don’t be afraid to be the only one in the room at times or even one of a select few.