Leader uses past STEAM experiences to encourage youth to pursue STEAM careers

Trish Villa is no stranger to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) program. Before she served in her present role of Director of Residential Services & Product Planning at CPS Energy, she was exposed to STEAM in middle school and then again as a student at Highlands High School. Her exposure to the world of STEAM has gotten her to where she is today – an engineer and leader at CPS Energy.

Late last month, Villa had the opportunity to speak at “Introduce a Girl to Engineering,” an event sponsored by the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). Over pizza and swag from both CPS Energy and Valero, Villa spoke to around 30 young kids about how the opportunities given to her at a young age drastically shaped the direction she decided to take her career. 

“There are so many opportunities out there within our company,” Villa told the crowd. She engaged with the youngsters, asking them what fields they are interested in studying, and explaining to them how those positions are available within the CPS Energy workforce.

“I was excited to participate in this event because I grew up on the southeast side of San Antonio and I still live there. It’s very important to share my experiences and how I got involved in this field with other young girls who grew up like I did,” Villa said. Villa shared how her counselors in middle school exposed her to an organization that was STEAM affiliated, and she quickly realized then that this industry was of interest to her. Moving into high school, Villa found herself surrounded by more STEAM related opportunities.

“I got lucky growing up that my high school was affiliated with the National Science Foundation. They had created a STEAM program that I became a part of,” Villa said. “We took classes associated with STEAM such as biology, chemistry, calculus and computer drafting. Some of my best memories of this program include taking engineering classes at Texas A&M University during the summer, taking field trips to places like The McDonald Observatory and making life-long friendships with other students.”

Students listen and engage with Villa during her presentation

As it turned out, the National Science Foundation had a partnership with Texas A&M, and after high school, Villa attended and graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in mechanical engineering. She even interned with CPS Energy in Power Engineering in 1993 and in Power Generation in 1996. After working in Houston for six years, she moved back to San Antonio when the Director over her internship reached out to her about a job. She accepted it and is now in her 17th year with our company. Today, Villa is part of the team that designs electric and natural gas infrastructure for residential customers. 

“I have been a part of the CPS Energy team for almost 30 years, and it has always felt like family,” Villa said. “I have so many wonderful memories and I can’t wait to make more. It is very rewarding knowing I am part of a team that serves a great community like San Antonio. But, most of all, it’s a great feeling knowing there are about 3,000 other employees I can depend on 24/7/365.” 

Villa’s hope is that her talk at the Y shed light on the endless opportunities in STEAM, and inspires young kids in and around the community to explore them. She also hopes, that maybe, some of those kids will be a future part of our CPS Energy family.

**** As of 2020, STEM is now referred to as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) – including art to promote curiosity and creativity.