Wind technician Tiffany Shepard grew up just down the road from DTE’s Brookfield Wind Park in the Thumb. For as long as she can remember, wind energy has been part of her life and her community. Her middle school had three operational wind turbines installed; her hometown hosted a wind festival that included tours of the Brookfield Wind Park; and she was an active Future Farmers of America (FFA) member in high school, during which she studied wind technology.
“That’s where my passion started, because wind turbines were all around us,” said Tiffany. “In FFA I studied wind parks as they related to different agricultural topics, and I fell in love with everything related to wind energy.”
After high school graduation, Tiffany began studying to be a teacher at Central Michigan University. She quickly realized the conventional school setting wasn’t for her and took a gap year to figure out what she really wanted to do. After attending a presentation from MIAT College of Technology, Tiffany decided to go there to obtain her Certificate in Power Generation for Gas, Steam, and Wind Turbine Technologies.
“I loved it so much and just sort of immersed myself in it,” said Tiffany. “All our instructors were previously in the power plant or energy industry so they could give us information based on their own experience, and the curriculum was very hands-on.”
After traveling for a year doing turbine blade repairs, Tiffany moved to Flint, where she spent five years working in a power plant. When her husband and son were ready to move back home to the Thumb, DTE provided the perfect opportunity for her to return to the wind industry and live near her family again.
“My family definitely inspired me to pursue my passion for wind energy,” said Tiffany. “My mom is an engineer and worked in an industry where there weren’t a lot of women. She worked her way up to managing the whole company and showed me you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it – it doesn’t matter if it’s a ‘man’s job’ – you can do it.”
Tiffany’s father also inspired her by starting his own business when she was young. She credits him with teaching her the value of hard work – something she learned by helping her father with his business and working on the family farm. Having found her calling, Tiffany is looking forward to a long career in the wind industry.
“For me, it’s satisfying to have a different view from different towers every day,” said Tiffany. “I tell everyone I have the best office view in the world. The climb may be hard, but the view is unlike anything else.”