Calicia Johnson
Calicia Johnson

How A Mechanical Engineer Shares Her Domain Advantage

April 7, 2021
A journey through engineering underpins a parallel vocation in mentorship.

Over the past 10 years, Calicia Johnson has worked as a rotating equipment engineer, maintenance engineer, subsea engineer, water strategy and planning manager, and most recently as a production facilities strategy and development manager at Chevron in Houston.

Johnson recalled how she worked on ground-breaking technology back in 2013 that is currently being fabricated and put into production. “When I joined Chevron, I was part of their Gulf of Mexico deep-water business unit,” said Johnson, who grew up in Detroit. “We worked on all things subsea…We had some projects coming up in the queue that really needed some high pressure, high temperature equipment that didn’t exist.

“We had to work with our contractors to create the equipment,” she continued. “We were working on high-pressure, high-temperature subsea trees, which have several components [including] different design packages, like actuator valves, small port valves, a tree connector, seals, couplers and well jumper connectors.”

A quick read of Johnson’s online profile reveals that her drive to succeed is tied to a whole other layer of commitment—giving back to the community. She has been honored with multiple accolades, including recognition for being a trailblazer in diversity through Chevron’s Black Employee Network, joining the Influential Women in Manufacturing Class of 2019, and being named a Technology Rising Star at the Women of Color STEM Conference the same year.

“The real value for me is lifting as I climb,” said Johnson, who connects with students on an ongoing basis through Student Career Studio, a non-profit she founded in support of underrepresented collegiate men and women pursuing a career in STEM. The mentorship program has evolved into a full-blown scholarship program, networking hub and speaker series. 

Her advice for up-and-coming STEM students: “Don't be afraid to reach out. A lot of people are afraid to send that cold message on LinkedIn, but I found that people are now, more than ever, more open to networking and sharing their story. People love talking about themselves.

"Get a list of standard questions to ask—things that you’re curious about. Start reaching out to people in those spaces. Engineering is definitely an extremely rewarding career. You’re not limited to one industry doing one thing; you can do a plethora of things.”

Watch the Machine Design Insider Interview with Calicia Johnson.

Editor's Note: Machine Design’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) hub compiles our coverage of gender representation issues affecting the engineering field, in addition to contributions from equity seeking groups and subject matter experts within various subdisciplines. Click here for more.

About the Author

Rehana Begg | Editor-in-Chief, Machine Design

As Machine Design’s content lead, Rehana Begg is tasked with elevating the voice of the design and multi-disciplinary engineer in the face of digital transformation and engineering innovation. Begg has more than 24 years of editorial experience and has spent the past decade in the trenches of industrial manufacturing, focusing on new technologies, manufacturing innovation and business. Her B2B career has taken her from corporate boardrooms to plant floors and underground mining stopes, covering everything from automation & IIoT, robotics, mechanical design and additive manufacturing to plant operations, maintenance, reliability and continuous improvement. Begg holds an MBA, a Master of Journalism degree, and a BA (Hons.) in Political Science. She is committed to lifelong learning and feeds her passion for innovation in publishing, transparent science and clear communication by attending relevant conferences and seminars/workshops. 

Follow Rehana Begg via the following social media handles:

X: @rehanabegg

LinkedIn: @rehanabegg and @MachineDesign

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