Life as a Working Structural Engineer


Life as a Working Structural Engineer

Erin O’Keefe, AES Clean Energy

3:30 p.m., February 15, 2024   |   129 DeBartolo Hall

One of the many advantages of a degree in civil engineering is the myriad industries where it can be put to use. No matter what is going on in the world, there’s a sector of the industry that is growing and an interesting problem to try to solve.

In my 20-year career, so far, I’ve worked as a general contractor, designed commercial high-rise buildings, analyzed and designed modifications to make operating nuclear power plants safer, advised financiers and developers on the technical adequacy of potential wind farms, and lead the design of utility scale solar and battery storage projects as an owner/operator.

As a student at Notre Dame, I didn’t know many of these options existed, or what it meant to actually do those jobs. I’ll share insights from my different career paths, as well as how my education and experience prepared me for my current role in renewable energy.

Erin O’Keefe is a senior engineering manager at AES Clean Energy. She leads a team responsible for the technical design and execution of utility scale solar and battery energy storage projects west of the Rocky Mountains. The team brought 1 GW of solar and 500 MW of battery energy storage on line in 2023. She holds a BS in civil engineering with a structural emphasis from the University of Notre Dame, an MS in structural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is a licensed structural engineer in the state of Illinois. She lives in Chicago, where she was born and raised.