During a time when “math anxiety” dissuaded many young girls from exploring opportunities in engineering-related fields, Lisa Richter followed her interests instead of the crowd. Today, she teaches students how to use smart technology to reduce energy costs and safeguard the environment and families, including her own, from harm.
“Growing up, math and science were always my favorite subjects. While many of my friends viewed both with apprehension, I viewed them as complex puzzles needing to be solved,” says Richter. “Engineering was a natural fit because it coupled my love of the sciences with my passion for problem solving.”
Richter, who grew up in Sterling Heights and graduated from Warren High School, earned an associate degree in automotive body and computer-aided design from Macomb. She followed that up with bachelor’s degrees in industrial management and mechanical engineering, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University. Most recently, she earned a post-graduate certificate in environmental and energy management from Lawrence Technological University. She has taught at Macomb for 21 years and was instrumental in developing the former Renewable Energy Technology certificate program into the Building Performance and Energy Management degree program.
“Traditionally, students chose a climate control, information technology or energy engineering pathway into an energy management career,” relates Richter. “What makes our program unique is that it pulls together these three traditionally independent disciplines. No other community college in the region has such a program.”
Prior to joining Macomb’s faculty, Richter was an engineering design analyst at Ford Motor Company and also spent several years providing training to design and engineering staff from the former Chrysler Corporation. Knowing first-hand the importance of industry support, Richter works with an advisory board of industry representatives to ensure that her program remains in synch with energy management trends. She is also active with the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, Society of Women Engineers and the Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments, providing her with practical insight to share with her students.
“I want my students to remember that I am their mentor, here to guide and support them through their educational journey,” says Richter. “I want them to embrace inquiry, hone their skills, seek out knowledge and never feel isolated or alone in my class.”
Richter doesn’t only teach her students about smart technology, she incorporates it into the home she shares with her husband Kevin; daughters Addison, 11, and Aubrey, 9; and three black Labradors.
“We have smart thermometers and lighting that we can control by our cell phones, as well as outside security cameras,” offers Richter. “We back up to a woods and, with our dogs, are always on the lookout for coyotes.”