This is PowerSpot, Plug Power’s monthly blog series where we highlight the Plug Power employees who inspire us and, we hope, will inspire you, too. Today, we’re meeting Sejal Patel, our senior mechanical engineer.
Please explain what you do for a living in 20 words or fewer.
I design, analyze, optimize and validate hydrogen fuel cell system components to offer the most cost effective power solutions and to reduce customer carbon footprints.
If you could go back and give your 21-year-old self a valuable piece of advice, what would you say?
I would give my 21-year-old self the following pieces of advice:
• Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
• Be yourself – fearlessly and unapologetically without worrying what others may think about you.
• Don’t take people, situations, or things for granted; nothing lasts forever.
Who is your hero? Why?
My father, without a doubt.
My father is a self-made man who started from scratch. He is a big believer in the power of education, and did everything to ensure that I had all the resources to have the best possible education. He motivated me to go abroad to study for my master’s, and covered my tuition bills even though he struggled financially at the time. He has never denied my passion or limited my potential. He is really the primary force behind my success and happiness in life.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I grew up in India in a small family. I was about average in curriculum during my early school years. Through my parents’ support and encouragement, I eventually became the first in my extended family to study in the USA, get a master’s degree, and start working in the field that I truly enjoy. I had never imagined I would be one of the few female Professional Engineers (PE) in the world who are working on commercializing hydrogen fuel cells, one of the world’s primary clean energy solutions! I am especially proud of this accomplishment, since I see it reflected in my parents’ eyes.
If you could choose to do any job for a day, what would it be?
Our natural world is being negatively impacted by all kinds of pollution and waste, and it needs help. It is the most precious resource we have and we need to defend it. I care about the environment and I think that we can all act responsibly for its (and our) better tomorrow. So, if I had to choose another job, I would wish to work as an environmentalist helping others make better choices concerning how they treat the Earth.
What three non-survival items would you take with you on a deserted island?
I enjoy photography, hiking, and music amongst other things. So I would take my camera, hiking gear, and iPod as the 3 non-survival items on a deserted island. Needless to say, I’d have to put my mechanical engineering skills to work to figure out how to keep the camera and iPod charged!
Thanks for being such a vibrant part of the Plug Power culture, Sejal!