In 2017, Empowering Pumps & Equipment began inviting people to nominate an industry professional, giving our #PumpTalk Community a chance to shine a light on the PEOPLE behind the pumps and pumping systems.
Meet Maria Elena Rodriguez Hernandez, Director of Special Projects at Indar (Grupo Ingeteam), with 20 years of experience in the field of Water Engineering. Based in Spain, this Mechanical, Hydraulic and Civil Engineer had some amazing stories to share:
Q. How did you get started working in your field?
Elena: It was 1997, and I was still a student working toward my Masters of Mechanical Engineering degree. Summer was coming, and I wanted to start with something in the industry. One of the core subjects was turbomachinery (pumps and turbines), and having taken into account that there was a pump company in my hometown of Zarautz (Bombas Itur, now part of KSB group), I applied for a summer internship. I was accepted and then the internship was extended during the academic year. When I finished the academic year, 1997 – 1998, they offered me the opportunity to complete my final Master project there. It was a computational fluid dynamic analysis of an existing pump using CFD codes. This project was going to be one of the first studies of this type in Spain, and the first one in Bombas Itur. It was a very challenging project due to its innovative character and my limited access to only a few references. I successfully finished the project and graduated with honors in 1999 – and I think that experience was the spark for my passion for pumps! After few months in a technological center working with CFD codes, I came to Indar Submersible Pumps and Motors in July 2000. I started as a Centrifugal Pump Designer, and have grown with the company. I’ve been working at Indar about 18 years!
Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Elena: This is a very creative job, and I never feel bored! At this point in time, I have two major purposes within Indar: I work as a Centrifugal Pump Design and Performance Engineer, mainly supporting customized projects, and I am, at the same time, the Water Engineering Director. Both these endeavors complement each other and keep me up-to-date with new technologies. I am in permanent training, and I like it! The feeling of always learning something is very satisfying to me!
I employ creativity to contribute to the common good – to work for the most efficient use of water.
As Water Engineering Director, I enjoy having the opportunity to work on projects from the very beginning, when they are only conceptual ideas. Being able to solve a hydraulic necessity is really exciting. Thinking about the best solution for the existing needs, participating in the design, tracking and acting during the whole process until the pump is installed – prior, during and after the start up – this is really incredible!
I like to think that with my job, I contribute to community’s well-being. Water is a renewable but limited natural resource. It’s a fundamental resource for life, and of course, for all economic activities.
I am proud and very grateful to my parents and grandparents for supporting me and giving me the opportunity of attending a private university in order to follow my dreams. None of them went to university, and they wanted something better for me. My grandparents had to emigrate, in the early 50’s, from a very poor area in the center of Spain – in search of work when my parents were just 2 – 3 years old. All of them have worked really hard, and somehow they all are responsible for where I am right now. I know all they have sacrificed just because they were sure about me.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Elena: If in doubt, just try it. You will never regret it! The Pump Industry is a very exciting business with a lot of disciplines that can satisfy your specific interests, skill sets, and professional background.
Q. Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Elena: The Lake Mead Project is the most recent project I worked, for the low lift level pumping station – Intake Number 3. Lake Mead is the largest freshwater reservoir in the United States, in terms of maximum water capacity, that was recently at its lowest water level since the lake was first filled during the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s (according to the Bureau of Reclamation). A new Pumping Station (PS-3), requiring submersible pumps, is currently in the works; Lake Mead PS-3 substantially increases the reliability and flexibility of Southern Nevada’s water treatment and delivery system.
I’m participating in the entire process – the conceptual design of the solution, the submersible pump design, manufacturing tracking and testing – it’s been a fantastic experience for me! It has been a joint creative process working together with my Indar colleagues and SNWA engineers. Engineers from different disciplines (Civil ,Electrical, Structural, Mechanical and Hydraulic engineers), working together, combining efforts, facilitating synergies, and contributing new technical and operative solutions for this challenging project. This has been, for sure, a great collaboration. The teamwork has been the key to the success of finding the best solutions for this project.
On behalf of the entire team at Empowering Pumps & Equipment, Thank you for being one of our #PumpTalk Celebrities! We look forward to keeping up with you as you continue advancing your career in the Pump Industry! We know you will do great things!!