Sometimes I feel pity for the poor engineer that's going to be stuck with his problem because I can't lend them a hand.
To clarify further, reputation is not supposed to impact an answer being upvotted
These two lines don't really fit together. If you want to answer a question, in the vast majority of cases you can just do so. That's by design. (Shog has already mentioned protected questions. They aren't common on any site.)
So if the only thing you care about is helping folks that have problems, the site is almost never going to get in your way. And, in fact, since any asker can always give you 15 rep by accepting your answer, and since good answers to even fairly niche questions in boring technologies typically get at least an upvote or two on SO, answering with any regularity and quality is almost certain to get you a decent reputation with a bit of patience. (Well, a lot of patience. I have only 2k rep on SO because I got tired of trying to find questions I could answer better than others already had.)
That said, answering just to help one person, and collecting the odd vote once in a while, is not quite what the site most wants from you. Rather, the site much prefers answers that are helpful to a lot of people, which are frequently seen and frequently prompt someone to upvote when they do see them. If your areas of knowledge happen to coincide with questions that are in demand, you may be able to select questions more strategically and get a lot more rep accordingly. (Determining an algorithm for selecting such questions is left as an exercise for the reader.)
Finally, I have often seen suggestions, or insinuations, that high rep causes increased upvoting. I have never seen a peer-reviewed study on this subject, only gut feelings posted by users who don't have as much rep as they'd like, or as much rep as others. Until I see a convincing statistical proof of this effect, given the undeniable reverse causative link between a writing style and habits that get a lot of upvotes, and gaining a lot of rep accordingly, I'm inclined to write this off as an understandable human mental imprecision around large-scale statistics, combined with a certain amount of envy in some cases. It's certainly possible that the effect does exist, but I don't expect it to be very dominant. And there are absolutely cases where a low-rep, even 1-rep user posts something that explodes with upvotes, because it's just that good.