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A Conversation with Jennifer Medina from SoCalGas

Meet Jennifer Medina, the SoCalGas Hydrogen Engineering Team Lead.
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Content sponsored by SoCalGas

Who Am I? 

My name is Jennifer Medina and I lead a team of SoCalGas engineers responsible for the design and safety evaluation of the exciting hydrogen and hydrogen blend projects our company is focused on as part of our clean energy initiatives. We recently completed the [H2] Innovation Experience Project in Downey, California, which showcases how hydrogen can support a cleaner energy market. It is also an example of something that is possible today, not just a dream for the future.  

A Better Future 

I love knowing the hydrogen work we are doing today will not only shape the future of our company but will shape the future of our nation’s energy needs. Hydrogen is the most abundant molecule on the planet and the byproduct of hydrogen when combusted is water vapor. By mixing hydrogen with natural gas, we can offset some of the carbon emissions from burning methane. Research has shown that many of the gas appliances we use in our homes today can burn hydrogen and natural gas blends. This means households could continue to use the appliances they love and burn a cleaner fuel without having to do anything differently.  

My Career Path 

I fell in love with chemistry in my junior year of high school. My brother-in-law worked for a chemical company at the time, and he suggested I marry math and chemistry by trying my hand at chemical engineering. I always like to say that I got lucky when my chemical processing engineer professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), gave me an assignment to theoretically build a natural gas storage facility. It gave me the opportunity to reach out to engineers at SoCalGas who had previously graduated from CSULB. They talked so highly about the company’s culture that I applied to work at SoCalGas as soon as I graduated. 

Up for the Challenge 

I remember earlier in my career a manager noticed how I never shied away from new things. He asked if I would be willing to write up a plan for implementing a new program in our company to bring centralized remote control to portions of our distribution network. I jumped at the opportunity to learn something new. They also needed a team lead to manage the natural gas vehicle and electrician group. The role needed to be filled quickly and required a lot of learning on the job. I asked if I could fill the role. I think that it was my willingness to try new things and not be afraid of the unknown that really gave me the opportunity to work in our hydrogen blending group.  

Advice for College Grads 

I always like to tell young engineers there are two things that greatly helped me in my career. The first is to not be afraid of asking questions. I know sometimes it feels like you should already know the answers and that it would make you look foolish to show that you do not know the answer. It’s never foolish to ask questions, it’s foolish to assume that you will just stumble upon the answer. The second piece of advice I have is to get out in the field as much as possible. As engineers, we sometimes get stuck in an office looking over designs and data. Getting to see the designs you have worked on in the field brings everything full circle. 



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