In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we sat down with our CEO and co-owner, Brandon Pinkerton, to discuss his journey as a Native American engineer. Brandon is a proud member of the Cherokee Nation.
What initially inspired your interest in engineering?
I initially got into engineering through an interest in AV systems and video games when I was younger. I was naturally curious and asked the question of not only how but why. By 8th grade, I knew I would be an electrical engineer, even though I did not know precisely what that meant.
Where did you go to school, and what did you major in? Why?
Even though I grew up in Oklahoma, I did not want to be a Sooner or a Cowboy, so I attended the University of Arkansas and received a degree in Electrical Engineering. Since graduating, I’ve become a licensed professional engineer in 49 states and Puerto Rico. I was recently inducted into the Arkansas Academy of Electrical Engineering.
What was/is your experience as a minority in engineering/designing?
Being Native American has dramatically influenced my work and the type of work I’ve found joy in completing. I’ve been driven to give back and have contributed significantly to the Cherokee Nation through engineering. A lot of my work for the Cherokee Nation and other tribal nations has been in designing systems for healthcare facilities in underserved rural areas across the country. These facilities make a difference in people’s lives and prepare future generations for better health outcomes.
Was anyone in your family an engineer?
While I’m the first engineer in my family, I’ve had many family members involved in the AEC industry. My dad is a contractor, and my grandfather and uncle were both electricians. I even encouraged my little sister to get into engineering. She is now an Electrical Project Manager for HP Engineering and is an American Lighting Association (ALA) Lighting Associate.
Have you worked on any projects for the Native American/Indigenous community you are proud of? What are those projects, and what made you proud?
I have designed many healthcare facilities in rural tribal communities across the United States. I am proud to be a part of bringing quality healthcare to previously underserved parts of our country. This work is important to me as it provides more opportunities for healthcare access, thereby reducing negative health markers impacting many indigenous and Native American communities.
In your opinion, how important is the Native American/Indigenous Community to the future of AEC?
It is so important that Native Americans continue to have opportunities to serve in the AEC industry. Native Americans have been historically under-represented in engineering, and I believe it is important to provide opportunities for natives to influence the world we live in.
HP Engineering proudly sponsors a scholarship at the University of Arkansas’s Engineering School for Native American students. As a Native American-owned business, we understand the importance of establishing a legacy and paving the way for future Native American engineers.
If you are interested in learning more about HP Engineering and our efforts to create a positive environment for Native Americans in our workplace and the AEC industry, please email us or reach out on social media.