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ASPE Member Spotlight: Paula Leatherman

By Rebekah Weidner posted 05-14-2024 13:02


What is your current position? What is your area of focus?  
As a Senior Engineering Specialist, I am also responsible for plumbing and fire protection design.

What are your career journey highlights?

  • Joined ASPE in 1989
  • Attended my first ASPE Convention in 1990
  • Obtained CIPE in 1994
  • Took lead plumbing designer position at current employer
  • Inducted into ASPE College of Fellows

What motivated you to get into the plumbing engineering industry?
I started out drafting for an architectural team and switched to the mechanical department where I was drafting for a senior mechanical engineer who preferred to focus on HVAC design, so he taught me how to do plumbing design. A few years later, I had a supervisor who encouraged me to join the local ASPE chapter. Shortly after, a local rep arranged for a van full of young engineers to attend my first ASPE Convention in Cincinnati and from there on it was a given that I was where I wanted to be. The networking experiences at the ASPE national conventions and symposiums is tremendous.

And then, at a young age I attended a regional Presidents Meeting and a Symposium by myself and was so welcomed by other chapter members that I immediately felt like family. I have continued to enjoy the camaraderie years later.

What is the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your work?
When I drive by buildings that I have been an intricate part of designing and see them occupied and functioning above and beyond what the owners had envisioned.
But at this point in my career, I find the most rewarding part seeing the younger individuals I mentor in my workplace, and outside of my workplace with the ASPE Mentor Program, grasp what I'm teaching them and advance to the point where they are capable and comfortable with designing a project on their own with little or no guidance...this is the best! 

What value have you gained from participation in ASPE Connect?
ASPE Connect is absolutely wonderful! It's amazing what we can learn from each other. It is interesting, enlightening, and at times entertaining, to read through the questions and comments. I find myself referring back to the Open Form Community quite often for advice on situations that have come up at work. I also enjoy being able to respond and help others with their circumstances.

What is the most interesting plumbing design challenge you have encountered?
Designing a rainwater harvesting system for a public school prior to packaged stormwater system availability, and incorporating visual controls and metering displayed to the public for educational purposes. Large fire protection systems for high hazard applications being served from a limited rural well system and having large, buried storage requirements.

What is your favorite hobby or pastime outside of work? 

I enjoy yard work, gardening, reading, spending the day walking through the local botanical gardens or visiting the zoo, sketching up dream home floor plans, time with my games sometimes keep me up late 😏




27 days ago

Hello Paula; its nice to meet you.

I also attended the ASPE Cincinnati Convention, and most of them since, so I feel we must have met through the years. 

I enjoyed you Q&A responses. They sound a lot like myself, particularly about engagement with peers and mentoring junior designers and engineers.

Thanks for being a part of this great organization. Best wishes for future health and prosperity.

Dennis Connelly CPD

Newcomb & Boyd Engineers

Atlanta Chapter

Hello Paula, I have some questions regarding the CIPE and I was just wondering how I can contact you?