• Member Feature: Julia Forbes

    Julia Forbes, P.E., serves as Principal Engineer at the Cary, North Carolina office of Altran North America, an engineering and consulting company specializing in the energy, life science, transportation industries in North America.  She is a member of the company’s new digital upgrades team that focuses on nuclear power plant digital upgrades, digital safety-related applications for licensing in new and existing plants, human factors engineering for digital systems, training development, and other engineering services.

    Q: Give us a brief introduction of yourself, your educational background, and your current place in the industry?

    A: I earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University. I began my career in the defense industry designing highly specialized and embedded control systems. I changed over to nuclear power in 1998, working with digital control system upgrades to replace obsolete analog control systems. I am currently a Principal Engineer with Altran North America working with digital control systems in projects that span both new domestic and international nuclear plants under construction and replacement projects at existing nuclear plants.

    Q: What made you decide to become an engineer?

    A: I had taken a drafting class in high school because I thought designing houses was fun but my drafting teacher suggested I look into engineering. I was fortunate enough to participate in an effort by Michigan Tech to recruit girls for engineering and attended a summer engineering camp. Once I got to see all the electrical engineering options and ideas for careers, I knew it was the right path for me.

    Q: What do you like to do with your free time?

    A: I really like to explore and learn cultures and I do that in many ways. I love to cook, I sing in a choir, and I love to travel. Sailing is a passion I don’t get enough of but I try to take at least one day or evening sailing excursion when I travel on vacation. My next trip is to Scotland and I am looking forward to the lovely scenery, castles, villages, and, of course, some tasting of Scotch food and drink.

    Q: How has ISA benefited your career?

    A: I have taken several ISA courses, particularly related to the nuclear industry, and have used what I learned in my project responsibilities. I regularly attend the ISA POWID (Power Industry Division) conference, which furthers my understanding of the industry issues, good practices and new ideas. The networking opportunities in the industry, the technical information I receive, and the opportunity to participate with the development of industry standards have been invaluable.

    Q: What’s your overriding goal at this point in your career?

    A: I would like to see the successful startup of a new nuclear power plant in the United States and hope that I have been able to help contribute to these plants’ safe and successful operation. I firmly believe nuclear power is essential for resolving environmental problems. Of course, retirement is in my sights as well, and I am working hard to ensure that I have a successful path to retirement. I have been fortunate to work on many great projects over the years and I feel I can retire satisfied with my accomplishments.