If you think engineering is a desk job that requires more math than people skills, spend a day with Kendall Blaine.
Blaine is a distribution engineer at Duke Energy with solid math and science skills, but she's good with people, too. Her team is one of the first you’ll speak with if you call Duke Energy with a request to bury power lines, move them or find out where you can build a new garage on your property.
It has plenty of variety, and that’s what Blaine loves about it. Most days, she meets with more than 10 customers – they can be new homeowners installing a service line or businesses that need to design a delivery system for a new factory.
“A lot of large companies, you either talk to someone at the call center or you go online, but you don’t actually get to meet a real person,” Blaine said, “so it’s really nice that I get to go out, shake hands, and talk to customers."
Blaine joined Duke Energy in 2017 after graduating from Clemson University with an electrical engineering degree. She worked for Duke Energy in Greenville, S.C., before transferring to Charlotte. She took over Duke Energy’s Instagram on Oct. 23 to show us what a day in her life is like.
Blaine spends half her week in the office and half in the field. On her office days, she’s designing plans for projects, sending them out to crews and setting up appointments with customers. When it’s time to head outside, she packs her car with the supplies that will help her find the information she needs: measuring tape, distance wheel, wooden stakes, flags and, of course, a notepad.
Sketching is a big part of the process. She jots down the height, size and location of the pole along with what’s attached so when crews come out to replace a pole or transfer the wires and equipment to a new pole, they know what equipment they’ll need to do the job.
At this location, she’s making plans to transfer equipment to a pole that will enhance the 5G network for a telephone company.
At a customer’s new home, Blaine measures and marks where an underground line will be located. The white flags she places lets the crew know where they should install the cable. Each job requires a team, from the first person who routes the request to the crews who install the equipment. Being part of that team, Blaine said, is a responsibility she’s grateful for. Before learning about the industry, she thought working at a utility was all about power plants, but now she knows the opportunities are much more diverse and she cares about the work more than she thought she would on and off the clock.
When a storm knocked out power at her home recently, she got in her car to see what the problem was. “If we don’t get power on to a customer, it really affects their everyday life,” she said. “It’s not just a little thing. It’s their life, and it feels like we have a really big impact.”
Every day Blaine helps businesses and homeowners from Charlotte to Fort Mill, S.C., and she’s glad to be their go-to at Duke Energy. “I just think about how I would want something explained to me,” she said, “if I were the homeowner.”