Structural Engineer Jessyca Cochran said she enjoys helping her customers, even those involved with unexpected — and stressful — building projects.
For example, after Napa’s 2014 earthquake, she worked with a number of Napans to rebuild their damaged properties.
Using her engineering expertise, “I could facilitate that process for them and take that stress away,” she said.
“That’s good. I feel like that’s what I can give back to the community.”
Cochran’s business — JVC Engineering — offers structural design of residential commercial and industrial projects in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas.
1. What was your childhood ambition?
I wanted to be an ice skater.
2. What was your first job?
Office assistant at Quinn’s Automotive in Hemet, Calif. when I was in high school.
3. What’s the worst job you ever had?
I was a substitute for a kindergarten teacher. It takes more than you think to manage 20 little guys full of energy…but they sure do have a lot of creativity.
4. How did you get into engineering?
When I was in 7th grade a friend of mine told me “I’m taking drafting and I refuse to be the only girl so you’re taking it with me.”
I enjoyed it and did well. Later in high school when you have to figure out what you are going to do with the rest of your life I thought I would become an architect.
I was able to take some more drafting classes as a junior and senior. I remember drawing lap siding one day and said to myself “If this is what architects do all day, count me out!”
So I went to an open house at USC and got to see a lot of different engineering programs and that is when I chose civil engineering. After I got to Cal Poly, I narrowed down my focus to structural engineering.
5. What’s one of your favorite parts of your job?
Solving the puzzle.
Everybody has this idea: “I want to do this.” “Can I do this?” “Can I do that?”
It’s figuring out what is necessary to bring the concept to a place of reality.
6. What’s a common question you get at your job?
What’s the difference between an engineer and architect? How do I know I need an engineer or architect? Why do I need you?
There’s a lot of confusion there.
The very general and overly simplified difference is that an architect makes it look good and an engineer makes it stand up. If I do my job well, you never see what I do because it’s all hidden.
7. What is the biggest challenge your business/industry has faced?
Economics. When the economy declined in 2008 — and the years following — my industry was hit very hard.
8. What’s your advice to someone who wants to get into engineering?
Do an internship. Do internships in both the public and private sector. Get an understanding of what it really looks like out there.
9. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Harry Price. He is a successful business man who goes out of his way to give back to the community.
10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I like to make stuff, from knitting sweaters and sewing dresses to modifying ignition systems on generators.