Islin Munisteri, EIT
Petroleum Reservoir Engineer
State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I enjoy the thrill of solving a challenge. Long story short is that I was a weather junkie, but didn’t realize the full potential of jobs out there in STEM until I was trying to decide what college to attend. Full story here.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I worked on was building a reservoir simulation from the ground up. The simulation, using rock and fluid data from the field, creates production profiles of oil, gas and water based on certain constraints in the system, such as the number of wells drilled, facility, and flowline capacities. The simulation I built later helped to guide approximately $200 million in drilling a well! I worked with geophysicists, a geologist, and a petrophysicist to make it happen.
Role models and heroes:
My biggest role models are my parents (though still hard to admit at times), my husband, my teachers in public school growing, particularly Mrs. McAfoos, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Bartholomew, and Mr. Richardson. In university, it was Dr. Graves, hands down. I remember crying to her about structural geology, and she basically told me to not forfeit my entire degree on this one course, and to buy some Play-Doh to learn about faulting and folding. At work, it has been my colleagues and senior men and women who have continued supporting me. You know who you are.
My heroes are the women and men who are in Society of Women Engineers or Pink Petro. We are all supporting each other up the jungle gym of life!
Why do you loving working in STEM?
I absolutely love the collaborative atmosphere of working in the energy industry. I get to work with landmen (and landwomen), geologists, geophysicists, production engineers, facilities engineers, petrophysicists, CEOs—the list goes on! The industry is truly multidisciplinary and so you can get a multitude of different opinions on any one problem.
The best way I can say it is that six years after I graduated college, working in STEM feels like home.
Advice for future STEMinists?
- Go where your interests lay—your curiosity is the biggest clue on what to do next. Learn to listen to yourself and your intuition
- Get a community of people to support you—not just your parents, but friends, professors, engineers, computer scientists—the list goes on. I can tell you, that if it wasn’t for my husband (who was my college sweetheart), mentors and the Society of Women Engineers, I wouldn’t have continued to be an engineer today.
- Run the economics. See how much an average chemist vs. English major vs. petroleum engineer makes per year. See how much your lifestyle at your parent(s)’ house costs. You would be surprised. You shouldn’t choose a major solely for the money, but you should know what you are signing up for, eyes wide open.
- Trust yourself and your own judgement. There will be times in the future when management will ask you, “What does your judgement say?” and you will have to respond on the spot.
Favorite website or app:
My favorite website is Pink Petro (www.pinkpetro.com)! I’m helping Katie Mehnert bootstrap her startup and it is just getting started. It is a private social community for women and men in the energy industry—a safe space to discuss challenges, trials, and tribulations.
My favorite app would have to be Overdrive. It connects to audiobooks and e-books by using your library account. Right now I’m listening to “Still Alice” and it’s absolutely heartwrenching, but it is good therapy for the soul.