Being in OSU Institute of Technology’s Pipeline Integrity Technology program is really a family matter for Kalea Arguello and Fernanda Solis.
“I was born into a family of pipelines starting with my great-great-grandfather. It’s a family business passed down from generation to generation,” Arguello said. “My father and uncle both work in the industry.”
Solis decided to go into Pipeline Integrity because of her father.
“I started to grow an interest for it every time he would come home and talk about his day at work. I did not know much about it at first, but I became more interested the more I asked him,” Solis said.
Arguello and Solis are the first female students enrolled in Pipeline Integrity Technology, and both said they were hesitant at first, but their families were supportive.
“My dad was all for it because he said there was a lot of opportunities for women in this field,” Arguello said.
Joe Bartlett, Pipeline Integrity Technology instructor, said a misconception about pipeline integrity is that it involves a significant amount of common labor tasks.
“Pipeline integrity is about keeping the environment, the general public, the pipeline assets, and the employees safe. Pipelines are the safest way to transport gas and hazardous liquid across the country,” Bartlett said. “I have found women to be equally successful in all areas within the pipeline integrity field.”
Being the only women in class hasn’t been as tough as either Arguello or Solis thought.
“At first I was intimidated; now we’re all talking and communicating, and I’m more comfortable,” Solis said. “The guys don’t make us feel like ‘You’re girls, you can’t do this.’”
Both are now anxious and eager to start their internships to learn more about the industry.
“There’s more women in the industry than what you think. Talking with my dad, he said there are more and more women coming in every month,” Arguello said.
Solis said she would encourage other girls and women to consider pipeline integrity as a possible career choice.
“There are so many options with the program, so many places you can branch out, so many things you can do,” she said. “If you like to be outdoors you can work out in the field, or there are opportunities in the office setting.”
This is the first in a series of stories about women enrolled in some of OSUIT's more traditionally male programs