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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 40

National Engineers Week: ATC engineers share their stories

ATC is powered by engineers of several different disciplines. From electrical to civil, computer to industrial, we salute our engineers for helping us plan, design, build, maintain and keep our data secure to help keep the lights on.

In honor of National Engineers Week, we asked a few of our engineers to tell us why engineering is the field for them.

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Ruchi S., senior transmission planning engineer

“I’m an electrical power systems engineer. I grew up in India where if you are a good student you are expected to take up math and science and are expected to become either an engineer or doctor. I really wanted to be a doctor growing up, but to do that you have to sit for competitive exams where only a few hundred are selected from a pool of a million students. I ended up succeeding in both of the exams, but I didn’t get into the mainstream medical field. Instead I ended up making the cut into dental sciences and electrical engineering. I opted for the latter, which I thought was cooler than having to fix people’s teeth. That’s how I became an engineer and I have loved it ever since. I also have bragging rights since I am the first and only female engineer in my immediate and extended family.

“The thing I love most about being an engineer, specifically a power systems engineer, is that I am able to contribute towards ensuring that people can have access to one of the basic necessities of modern life, electricity, and that in itself is very gratifying. It’s a career that has taught me to constantly innovate and be in constant learning mode and is a career which  pays well and makes me financially independent.”

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Greg H., asset support engineer

“I am an industrial engineer. I decided to become an engineer because I always enjoyed tinkering, problem-solving and figuring out how things work (and to prove to my high school calculus teacher that I really could do it!).  Marquette University had a young scholars program that I participated in in high school that gave prospective students a taste of the various engineering disciplines they offered. I enjoyed the industrial engineering curriculum because of the variety of work that IE’s do, from making operating room scheduling at hospitals more efficient to making factories more productive to helping electric utilities operate better.

“What I enjoy most about being an engineer is that each day brings a new challenge which requires continuous learning. The great thing about being an engineer at ATC is that the company supports continual learning by supporting formal training, but also through the informal transfer of knowledge to and from the other engineers with whom I work. I am always amazed at the level engineering expertise at this company and the willingness of those who share it.”

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Barbara M., major project manager

“I am a civil engineer with an emphasis in transportation. My dad was a civil engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and he was very good at what he did. I realized early on in college that the money was better in the engineering field than in education, where I initially began my college career.

“I like problem solving, and the fact that every problem is different. No two engineering projects are the same; each project has unique problems that are solved in different ways. I also like that to move forward in engineering, you need to keep up with technology and keep up with projects. I like to keep learning something new. Engineering is definitely a team effort, and I like working with other people to make a project successful.”

 

 

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Logan B., associate system protection engineer

“I’m an electrical engineer with emphases in power and energy, as well as controls. I also have a sustainable and renewable energy systems minor from UW-Platteville. In the years leading up to college, I imagined I would be a civil engineer – I always liked seeing the physical make-up of things, such as how the static and material properties of a bridge worked. But I was persuaded into electrical engineering by Dr. David Drury (he gave many UW-Platteville EE grads some unforgettable college stories) because of my good math skills. Performing circuit analysis was always like a puzzle to me, and the problems have become more complex and challenging as I’ve developed as an engineer. This reaffirms my decision to become an electrical engineer, and I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds!

“I enjoy being an engineer because it offers exciting challenges on a day-to-day basis. While working at ATC, I’ve strived to learn the intricacies of each department and how ATC’s holistic attitude has made us a great company to work for and work with. Like the typical engineer, I love to know the “how” and “why” to everything, yet fully realize we must rely on and leverage others’ skill sets to be the best team. Having an engineering background is also a great benefit for everyday life, whether it’s forming a budget, working on projects at home, or understanding causes and effects personally, economically, nationally and globally. Life is like an equation with some basic inputs and outputs. Hard work + family + fun = success!”

ATC’s McKee aims to educate policymakers, regulators with WIRES role

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Bob McKee

American Transmission Co.’s Manager of Regulatory Relations and Policy, Bob McKee, has accepted the position of president at WIRES, a non-profit group of electric transmission owners, investors, RTOs, consultants and other entities. The group’s function is to advocate for the development of transmission on behalf of its members.

It’s a position McKee calls “a great platform for ATC to address national policy issues that impact us.”

McKee has been the company’s main representative for WIRES for about two years. He collaborates on developing positions ATC takes at WIRES with WIRES members and Randy Satterfield, executive vice president business development, Tom Finco, vice president of external affairs and John Garvin, state government relations manager, and others regarding federal affairs throughout the transmission industry.

McKee served as the group’s vice president last year and was in line to become president-elect in 2016 before a change in leadership bumped him to president. He will serve as president through the end of 2016.

McKee stressed that while WIRES isn’t officially an “advocacy” group nor “lobbies,” it educates policy makers, regulators and other key external stakeholders about the benefit of transmission and weighs in on the policy debate in proceedings as FERC and other regulators and in Congress to support the development of transmission.

An example of that is when WIRES in 2015 raised the need for states when developing compliance plans for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to consider transmission to be viewed as part of the solution and to ensure that reliability of the transmission system to preserved, McKee said. That issue is beginning to gain national traction.

“WIRES was one of a just a few voices for transmission in this conversation about the Clean Power Plan,” he said. “Advancing ATC’s position on a national front provides value to us.”

The group meets in person four times per year, but also conducts monthly meetings to discuss business items and policy initiatives. WIRES also has various committees that McKee and others on his team participate in that undertake projects such as one that is developing a new communications plan addressing what messages WIRES should be conveying about the benefits of transmission, who the group should be talking to and in which forums.

As president, McKee is responsible for guiding the organization, ensuring the group is meeting its objectives, overseeing meetings and otherwise serving members.

”Identifying and working with the other officers and the WIRES board to determine the efforts we want to undertake, what objectives we have and overall, what we want to accomplish this year is a very exciting part of being named president of this organization,” McKee said.

It’s career fair season

ATC Positive EnergyYou wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but spring is just around the corner. That means American Transmission Co. recruiters and employees are busy promoting our job openings and internships at career fairs across the country.

ATC currently has more than 20 full-time job openings in a variety of fields, and will have approximately 25 internship and co-op positions this summer. If you know a student or job seeker interested in a career at ATC, tell them to visit ATC staff at one of these events to learn about our company and career opportunities:

 

The holidays are a time for giving at ATC

Throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, American Transmission Co. employees enjoy giving back to the community.

To help nourish families in need during the holiday season, ATC employees in Cottage Grove, Madison and Pewaukee, Wis., raised more than $1,000 and collected more than 50 pounds of food for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Pewaukee employees held a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive to benefit families in Waukesha, Wis. The drive was so successful that Salvation Army of Waukesha had to make two trips to transport all the toys. One reason this year’s drive was such a success is that the legal team decided to do a twist on a Secret Santa holiday gift exchange this year.

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An ATC legal team member donates a toy he received in a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Instead of buying a gift for each person on the legal team to keep, a toy gift was bought to donate to Toys for Tots in honor of each team member. The donated toy reflected something about the person to whom it was given. For example, Alejandro B., staff counsel, is from Florida and is a Miami Dolphins fan. His secret Santa bought a big stuffed dolphin toy to donate.

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De Pere employees “adopted” a family through the Salvation Army for holiday giving.

For the 10th straight year, the De Pere, Wis., office provided Christmas gifts to a local family “adopted” through the Salvation Army of Brown County. On the wish list for this year’s family of four with a baby on the way were such items as Princess and My Little Pony dolls and movies, a Hungry Hungry Hippo, movie and bowling passes, as well as such practical items as clothing, diapers, grocery cards, crockpot and a Wisconsin Public Service gift certificate.

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The Dane County Humane society received many needed supplies from employees who donated items they found on the “giving tree” in the Madison office.

In Madison, employees chose gift ideas for needed items hung on a “giving tree” to purchase supplies for the Dane County Humane Society. Keeping with the spirit of this fall’s unseasonably warm weather, the tree was decorated in a tropical theme this year.

Our real estate team held its third annual White Elephant Auction. Silly gifts such as a Chewbacca can cooler (think fur with a metal sash) and a howling flying monkey stuffed animal (catapults through the air and howls as it hits the ground) were a couple of the hilarious items up for auction. The group raised about $1,200 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

ATC’s Kingsford, Mich., office purchased gift cards for the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center to help local veterans who are homeless or suffer from severe mental health issues.

With holiday spirit and a little bit of fun, ATC helps make the holidays a little brighter for the community.

ATC employee helps spearhead Dane County trail upgrade

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A multi-use trail at McCarthy Park in Cottage Grove, Wis., will be a more attractive option for outdoor enthusiasts this winter, thanks in part to efforts by American Transmission Co. employee Paul Roltgen.

Roltgen, a senior estimator at ATC, sits on the Friends of McCarthy Park board and is responsible for fundraising efforts to improve the 220-acre park.

An avid cross-country skier who participates in the American Birkebeiner every year, Roltgen started asking two years ago for donations to fund improvements that would benefit everyone who uses the park.

The Friends board decided that a poorly-draining road that cut off a main trail artery needed to be moved.

After Roltgen received a $2,500 donation from ATC, which he said was used for gravel materials, Roltgen asked McFarland-based Henkels & McCoy for help with the project.DSC_0153

The engineering and utility infrastructure company donated four days of labor to move the road and finish the trail, Roltgen said. Work began this month after securing permits from the Dane County Parks Division to move the road.

“The park is a really enjoyable place to be in the winter,” said Roltgen. “But this is also something we hope can be used year-round.”

Al Bayer, senior project manager at Henkels & McCoy, credited Roltgen with having a vision for the project.

“This is a good corporate citizenship partnership,” said Bayer. Roltgen said those living on the east side of the county will benefit from the improved multi-use trail.

“There are a lot more options like this for folks who live west of Madison, but not many for those around here,” said Roltgen.