New engineers learn the ropes with ATC design engineering team
American Transmission Co. is home to some of the best and brightest engineering minds in the utility industry.
That’s thanks, in part, to a team that’s relatively small and rather new; but it’s a team that’s making a substantial impact – design engineering.
In just six years, ATC’s design engineering department has supported $100 million in projects. Still, Design Engineering Manager Nick G. says the department’s most valuable asset isn’t the projects – it’s the people.
The department has welcomed, encouraged and cultivated the talents of dozens of engineers and designers, many of whom started with ATC as recent college graduates.
Meredith J., project engineer, credits her time in the department with her growth as an engineer.
She graduated from UW-Madison in 2011 with a civil engineering degree. She joined ATC as a scheduler in 2012 after working briefly in the utility industry. Hoping to gain more engineering experience, she joined the design engineering team. After honing her skills in the department, she now works on much larger projects as a project engineer with ATC.
“The experience in design engineering has been incredibly valuable in my current role as a project engineer,” said Meredith.
Design engineering supports projects that play a vital role in ensuring ATC meets energy needs across its service territory. The team is responsible for designing repairs or replacements of infrastructure like wood poles, batteries, communication technologies and control devices. The team also works on line relocation projects, and projects connecting transmission lines to distribution substations.
The design engineering team formed in 2011 when ATC opted to bring formerly contracted design services in-house. Leaders at ATC thought the department could help train and cultivate newer engineers.
Six years later, the design engineering team atmosphere is undeniably positive with a focus on collaboration and creativity. Nick says it’s not just the newer engineers who benefit – it’s everyone.
“It’s fun. We learn a lot. The more experienced people learn a lot from the new employees, so it makes it a lot of fun to have that new, fresh creativity in the group,” he said.
Jerry C., senior civil designer, design engineering, was one of the more experienced employees to join the team. He transferred to the department after a number of years with ATC to fill a need on the team for more employees with a background in civil design.
“I feel very proud of what design engineering has accomplished in its short existence,” said Jerry. “We have trained young engineers that have now gone on to other positions within the company, and we have saved the company money by bringing some of the engineering back in-house.”
Tam V., team leader, design engineering, also joined design engineering to help mentor newer engineers.
“Working with the new engineers and designers in design engineering – watching them learn the business and develop their skills – has been the most rewarding part of my career,” he said. “They have a lot of energy and are eager to learn and make an impact. Sometimes the most difficult thing is to slow them down a little and help them learn to walk before they run. The goal is always for continuous and steady improvement.”
Going forward, the team is looking forward to bringing in more engineers and helping them learn to both walk and run with ATC.