National Engineers Week: Meet Maria Stahley, Metro-North Engineer

National Engineers Week is observed from Feb. 18 to 24, and it’s a time to celebrate the many engineers who work here at the MTA. Engineering is divided into four branches – mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical, with many additional subdisciplines. Engineers work in a variety of industries, including computing, biomedicine, energy, and, of course, transportation. This week, MTA Today will introduce you to some of our engineering colleagues.

Maria Stahley, Electrical Engineer, Communication and Signals, Capital, works out of the Graybar Building. She earned her undergraduate degree in engineering at Manhattan College in the Bronx.

How did you become interested in engineering?
I grew up following my dad and grandfather working around the house, doing electrical and basic plumbing. When I went to college I decided I liked engineering. I enjoy learning, taking things apart and knowing how they work. Engineers can do anything. It’s an ever-evolving and interesting field. You can apply engineering to everything in your life.

Can you tell us how you joined the MTA?
I interned with Metro-North’s Maintenance and Equipment department in 2011 and with Communication and Signals in 2012. I applied for an Associate Engineer position and got hired in 2013.

Why did you want to work at the MTA?
My mom, dad and uncle work here. I grew up with mom bringing me to Take Your Daughter to Work Day. My mother, File Gjidoda, has worked at Grand Central and now at the Croton-Harmon Station distribution center.  Dad, Krist Gjidoda, is a Metro-North Conductor. My uncle, Tom Shabani, maintains Metro-North ticket vending machines.

Do you like working here?
I love working for Metro-North. There’s a family mentality.

Do you enjoy your work?
Absolutely. It’s all teamwork. Everyone here is trying to get customers from point A to point B safely. I learn something every single day with every department I work with.

What’s your average day like?
I'm working on several projects. First, the Customer Service Initiative program. This will make upgrades to the Public Address/Visual Information system, network, security systems, cameras and displays and much more at outlying stations and Grand Central Terminal. Specifically, the GCT Big Boards and Gate Boards will utilize new modular LED technology. We’re also re-signaling the Waterbury branch lines.

What is it like to work in a male-dominated field?
I feel like it’s great “girl power.” I’m the only woman in my group now. I never really looked at it as me being a woman in a man’s field. I have to work a bit harder and show that I can accomplish more, but I basically see it as we’re all engineers. If you can do it, I can do it. The guys consider me one of the guys.

What additional skills does an engineer need?
You have to be a good writer since you produce a lot of reports. You have to use plain language and write as if you’re talking to someone who never heard of the project before. It’s harder than you think.

Would you recommend a career in engineering?
Yes! A cousin is going to Manhattan College and I told her to study engineering. She’s majoring in civil engineering and I’m proud and happy for her.

What one thing would we be surprised to find out about you?
Two things: that I speak Albanian, and I’ve taken up boxing. It’s a very relaxing sport. You have to have an open mind. It’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. You have to read the other person and watch them the entire time.

Photo: Maria Stahley, Electrical Engineer, Metro-North shown here in an undated photo taken in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Stahley.)

Article provided by MTA HQ.


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