Originally posted on Bluebird Network

Kayla Bix, OSP Engineer at Bluebird Network, was featured on a recent episode of the Careers for Women, Trades and Veterans in Tech and Data Centers podcast on August 8, 2023. Bix delves into the realm of fiber optic lines, elaborating on the intricate engineering processes involved, and recounts her path to becoming an outside plant engineer at a remarkably young age. The podcast is hosted by industry expert Carrie Goetz, author of Jumpstart Your Career in Data Centers.

In this engaging podcast interview, Bix, a 26-year-old Outside Plant Engineer at Bluebird Network, shares insights about her journey in the tech and data center industry. The podcast sheds light on her role as an OSP Engineer and highlights her experiences, challenges, and growth within the field.

Bix describes her role as an OSP Engineer, responsible for designing and implementing the physical infrastructure required to lay fiber optic cables into the ground. She emphasizes the importance of meticulously planning routes and ensuring the company avoids obstacles like water lines and other telecommunications infrastructure. Her responsibilities include blueprinting, project drafting, and physical route assessments.

Bix pursued engineering management in college, exploring different disciplines within the field. She stumbled into a telecommunications job after graduation, which ultimately led her to Bluebird Network. Her technical inclination, interest in hands-on projects, and a love for STEM subjects guided her toward a career in engineering.

Bix discusses the meticulous planning required for successful outside plant engineering projects. She collaborates with cities and towns to understand future developments, road expansions, and upcoming construction projects that might impact fiber route planning. This collaboration ensures that Bluebird Network’s infrastructure is prepared to support growing communities and businesses.

“We’re always looking forward,” Bix says. “So we can make sure that we’re ready to serve as anyone that needs it. We do a lot of pre-planning for things like customer growth… and we work with the city a lot to make sure that we’re up to date on things like new subdivisions or shopping communities going up that we could possibly service in the future.”

She illuminates on the concept of diverse paths in fiber optics, which involve creating alternate routes to ensure uninterrupted connectivity in case of a cable disruption, most commonly from construction. She discusses the importance of redundancy and how certain critical sectors, such as hospitals and banks, require diverse paths for essential services in the case of this kind of disruption.

The conversation delves into the significance of asking questions as a young professional, and Bix’s experience as a young woman in a predominantly male industry. She shares that her journey has taught her the importance of embracing failure as a part of the learning process. She encourages others not to be afraid of making mistakes, as each misstep contributes to personal and professional development. She emphasizes the value of learning from discussions, even when faced with differing viewpoints.

“When I first got to Bluebird, I was not only young, but also a female,” she says. “That was, it was very eye opening, to say the least. Someone like myself, who sees things from a totally different perspective, I was a bit timid to voice my opinion on things. But I learned that I can, even if it’s scary, I should try and give my opinion or do something if I know it’s what’s best for the company.”

She believes that these principles are vital for continuous improvement and growth in any career.

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