Kristin Spearman
Kristin Spencer Spearman, UAH 2022 Outstanding Young Alumni.
Michael Mercier | UAH

Alumna Kristin Spencer Spearman (B.S., Engineering, 2006), has been selected as the 2022 Outstanding Young Alumni of Achievement at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System.


Spearman is the Vice President of Transmission Planning & Projects for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Chattanooga, TN.  In this role she leads a group responsible for project planning and execution for one of the largest transmission systems in North America.


While much of her time is spent in conference rooms and virtual meetings, Spearman enjoys being part of the work that occurs in the field.  “My team is involved in all aspects of planning and constructing the equipment that is used to deliver reliable power to our customers. I like to be out in the field seeing the plans become a reality and supporting the people that are making that happen.  Otherwise, I find myself in way too many meetings,” she jokes.


The alumna has been with TVA since 2012 and has held a number of engineering and leadership roles prior to her current position, including design engineering, construction management and strategic planning. Prior to TVA, she was a mechanical engineer for the U.S. Army, working on Redstone Arsenal.


“That was a great experience,” the honoree remembers. “My group performed research and development with advanced composite materials. We did a lot of prototyping and lab work to design and build lightweight missile and aviation components. Being a young engineer and getting to be involved in every aspect in the process, from figuring out how things may work all the way to getting your hands dirty and building it yourself, is a rare and invaluable experience.”


Spearman cites her father as the most influential figure in her career. “He always taught me that hard work pays off and encouraged me to ‘just be yourself,’ advice that I think is incredibly important and that I now share with my kids regularly.


“I would say engineering was something I always knew I wanted to do,” she recalls. “My dad’s an engineer, plus I was always good at math and science which tend to point you in that direction. I never specifically set out to work for TVA; although ironically, I’m a third-generation employee here. My dad and his dad worked for TVA as well! My husband works at TVA too. TVA is clearly a big part of my life.”


Asked where she sees herself in the future, Spearman’s thoughts immediately jump to the future of her industry.  “Career wise, I’d like to stay in the power industry. It is very dynamic right now and in the middle of a huge transition. As we move away from more carbon-based resources like coal plants and more towards renewable resources like solar, the transmission grid must be modernized to keep up. While our industry had been stagnant for several decades, now we are evolving very rapidly, and so it is exciting to be part of that. The world we live in now is focused on electrification. Just think about electric vehicles as an example. That technology has improved to the point that more people are skipping the gas pumps and using electricity instead, therefore low cost, reliable power is becoming more important than ever.”


The UAH grad grew up in Gallatin, TN., before coming to college in Huntsville. “I really like Huntsville and the industry I worked in while I was there,” Spearman notes. “While at UAH, I interned at Northrup Grumman and then continued in the defense industry while with the Army. The move to Chattanooga was largely driven by my husband’s job, although me finding my way into my current career and into the place we call home has been a blessing.”


The honoree has been married to her husband Chuck Spearman for 11 years, and they have three daughters, Charlee (9), Baylee (7), Molly (3) and a chocolate lab named Otis.  Kristin adds, “Most of my hobbies and interests revolve around those of our family. Currently my kids are involved in golf, softball, basketball, volleyball and taekwondo. I also enjoy playing golf myself. I really enjoy most all sports and watch a lot of them. I love being outside, particularly at the beach, traveling, spending time with friends and family and experiencing new things. I enjoy being creative, whether it be through sewing, crafting or a DIY project around the house. I’m passionate about enjoying life to the fullest.”


She says her favorite memory of her university days “was largely associated with playing softball at UAH. I have so many memories of being a student athlete, it is hard to pick just one, but winning the Gulf South Conference championship as a senior is certainly a special memory. During my time at UAH I met lifelong friends in my coaches and teammates who I still continue to make memories with today.”


When asked to share one piece of advice with a current UAH student, what would it be, Spearman responds, “Choosing just one piece is hard! Enjoy every moment – those years go by quickly – and learn as much out of the classroom as in it.”


Spearman says UAH students have had a big impact across the southeast and beyond. “With TVA being a regional company that hires a lot of engineers, the quality of engineers that UAH produces creates a big impact for us.  Its nice to have many great engineering schools in our TVA service territory to recruit from. UAH is, in my opinion, one of the best. “


The Tennessee Valley Authority provides electricity for 153 local power companies serving 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states, as well as directly to 57 large industrial customers and federal installations. This is accomplished all without taxpayer funding, as TVA’s revenues come directly from sales of electricity. The TVA also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and regional governments with their economic development efforts.