It was in 1989 that Irene Hodor ’99, then a middle schooler in Clifton Park, N.Y., began to consider a career in environmental engineering.
That was the year that the Exxon Valdez vessel spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, eventually covering some 11,000 square miles of ocean. Hodor recalls being captivated by the story and the large-scale cleanup efforts.
“I had been thinking about architecture,” she says. “But I was fascinated by the story of the Exxon Valdez cleanup. I wanted to be involved in work that would make a positive impact on the world. My high school had a strong career program and I was encouraged to go into engineering.”
As a student at Clarkson, Hodor majored in civil engineering (with a minor in environmental engineering). She also became involved in the University’s SWE (Society of Women Engineers) chapter, serving as both student section secretary and president. She completed three summer internships, one in Indiana working for the Ft. Wayne Health Department and two at Xerox in Rochester.
After graduation she launched her career at ExxonMobil Corporation as an environmental remediation territory manager. Over the past 10 years, Hodor has held positions with increasing levels of responsibility, working primarily in environmental positions in the company’s Torrance, Calif., refinery. She has been involved in overseeing refinery compliance for ExxonMobil, eventually heading up the corporation’s hazardous waste program, responsible for cradle-to-grave handling and disposal of materials. Today, she is maintenance section supervisor, responsible for executing more than $30 million of annual work safely and efficiently. She is also overseeing a new program designed to optimize energy consumption throughout the refinery.
By focusing on mitigating environmental impact on the communities surrounding refineries, Hodor has made good on her plan to make a positive impact on the world.
Her accelerated career success and commitment to the environment and energy efficiency, coupled with her ongoing efforts to attract more women to engineering, earned her SWE’s 2008 Distinguished New Engineer Award.
“It is important to me to be a mentor to young women and teach them about engineering,” she says. “The percentage of women studying engineering has not increased since I was in school. I want to make sure that they know about engineering careers and the opportunities that are out there. That’s one reason I’ve remained so involved with SWE.”
Hodor is currently serving as the 2008-09 president of SWE’s Los Angeles section and coordinates the Subject Matter Expert Bowl, an ExxonMobil-sponsored collegiate competition held at the organization’s national conference.
“Engineers are by nature competitive and we are in a competitive industry,” says Hodor. “Women need peers and mentors — that’s what I like about SWE. I’ve made a lot of friends and have a professional community where I can network.”