Director, Corrosion College
By Joe Nowlan
Stephanie Ellis has had the usual career path in the electrical industry. She graduated from college. She worked for the Conan O’Brien Show in New York.
Ellis laughed and elaborated on how her career path has been anything but “usual.”
She attended Stephen F. Austin University and graduated in 2006 with a communications degree. After graduation, Ellis had the chance to move to New York City and worked for about a year as an unpaid intern on the Conan O’Brien show.
“It was a great experience but I came to know that in the entertainment industry, it’s not what you know but who you know,” Ellis said.
She came back to Texas and worked for a recruiting company before she arrived at her current position, as director of Corrosion College, sponsored by Robroy Industries.
“I guess it was kind of fate that I’ve fallen into the electrical industry. I happened to hear about the opportunity and that [Robroy] was a good company to work for. So I ended up inquiring about it, and in 2010 I started my career here,” she said.
Robroy saw a need among its many customers—primarily that corrosion was causing increasing costs yet few knew what to do about it.
“Corrosion is actually a huge economic drain. The cost of corrosion is now estimated to be somewhere near $1 trillion a year,” Ellis explained. “But [the college] is important because people who are designing in a corrosive environment have little knowledge on the subject of corrosion. Even the average engineer doesn’t learn about corrosion in their studies. There are not many places they can go to for this information. So it allows us to educate people in all channels in the electrical industry.”
Corrosion College’s facilities are in Gilmer, Texas, which is located about two hours east of Dallas. Attendees get a better idea of the importance of corrosion and why certain measures need to be taken to prevent it.
“A lot of people are designing in an environment that can be very corrosive [such as] wastewater treatment plants or a petro-chemical environment,” Ellis said.
People who attend Corrosion College receive academic credits honored by Purdue University and Kilgore College. The college is also recognized by the American Institute of Architects. The two-day course is offered at least once a month.
“It is short enough that allows people to come in and obtain this knowledge that is very useful to them in their day-to-day practices,” Ellis explained.
Ellis grew up in Northeast Texas, not far from where she lives today. In her free time, the 29 year-old Ellis and her husband Matt like to travel and stay active.
“We like to be outdoors and do the active stuff whether it’s kayaking, biking,” she said. The two also travel to Colorado in the winter to do some snowboarding– something that certainly can’t be found in Texas.
She is happier in the electrical industry, she explained, and contrasts it with her time in the TV industry.
“That’s the good thing about the electrical industry: it’s not who you know but it’s what you know.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the industry?
A. I think it’s important to learn as much as you can. Try to be a sponge and take it all in. Take every opportunity that comes your way and learn as much as you can.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?
A. I think the reason you’re passionate is that it is a new opportunity every day. It is something different every day and that is exciting to me. It is not a monotonous job. As far as being passionate about Corrosion College, I think it’s great to get out there and educate people on something that is unknown to them and could be so valuable and helpful to them…. We are getting feedback from people that come through and tell us how much they’ve enjoyed the course, how much they’ve been able to take away, how they have learned and how they are using that information on a day to day basis. It’s easy to be passionate about something when you feel like you are making a difference.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED