Meet all of the 2022 Top Women in HVAC

Mariela Lopez

Title: Aire Balancer Performance Team Supervisor & Control Specialist
Company: Aire Rite
Educational Experience: Certificate of HVACR Technology; Associate of Science Degree; Commercial System Performance Specialist Certification; Certified Economizer Specialist Certification; Refrigerant Side Performance Technician Certification; Commercial Air Balancer Certification; Residential Air Balancer Certification; Duct System Optimization Specialist Certification; Commercial Refrigeration Certification; Building Automation systems Certification
Industry Work Experience: Three years of experience

What caused you to/when did you to enter the HVACR industry?

I entered the HVACR field because I’ve always associated dirty hands with hard work. I’ve always been a hands-on kind of person, and I’ve always valued hard labored work. I wanted a job that didn’t stick me in one place or in an office and a job that would help me grow and learn. I wanted a job that didn’t have a limit when it came to growing knowledge. There’s always something new to learn in HVACR, and that’s what I find exciting and what encourages me to pursue this career.


What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in HVACR?

Definitely the work. Knowing that you know something that most people have never even heard of before. The most rewarding aspect for me is explaining the problem and solution to someone in simple terms because I’ve learned to master what I’m doing. The disbelief that I have done a good, sometimes even better job than the norm.


Describe the proudest moment in your career.

My proudest moment was when I did one of my first air balance jobs by myself in a timely manner with a full report attached. I was very proud of my work, and our customer was very satisfied as well.


What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?

The biggest challenge women face is misogyny. In a male-dominated field, women who come in can be seen as naive or not able. Most men think that the women they see won’t last very long and in some cases that is true, but I think that the women that come into this field are very brave and even more determined that most men already in this field. My best example of this is having some store managers direct higher questions to my technicians while looking down on me as if I don’t know what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s discouraging, but as a rising technician, I have been able to prove them wrong.


How can we increase the number of women in HVACR?

That is tricky. Modern women have no idea this option is even available. I think that if this career choice were explained and talked about more as an option for women, then more women would be interested in it. Trades in general should be talked about more as an option to the youth, men and women as a whole.


What does your day-to-day job entail?

At the moment, I am an Aire Balancer Performance Team Supervisor & Control Specialist technician. My day-to-day job consists of supervising 11 technicians. I also do tech support for the different type of controls we install and program for all technicians at the company. Every day is something different. I’m either surveying sites, training techs, or running control service calls, and here and there I get to do air balance jobs.


What remains on your HVACR bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?

I want to continue my education and add more certifications such as getting certified in advance air and hydronic balancing, and Niagara network programming.

I want to enter college and take my education to the next step. I want to go for mechanical engineering and continue to grow in my career.


What advice do you have for females who are considering entering the HVACR field?

My advice would be to be prepared for the labor. It’s a male-dominated field mostly because of the labor, not because of the knowledge. Both can learn everything there is about the field, but few can tough out the physical labor of it. Be ready for bad days and even worse days, but also be ready for the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.