Our engineering workforce is critical to advancing our mission to build the cleanest, safest, and most reliable energy infrastructure company in America. We recently highlighted our Engineering Excellence Luncheon, and are now spotlighting individuals who received awards at the event as part of our "Engineering Excellence" series. Our first feature is on Miguel Vazquez, who was recognized with the 2022 Reliability Award.
Miguel Vazquez, a senior electrical engineer on the transmission protection team and an important part to our front line, helps ensure that the 3.7 million residents who depend on our regional grid are able to power their daily lives and receive reliable electric service 24/7/365.
Guardians like Vazquez study electrical transmission systems and pursue the most technologically advanced automation and control engineering solutions. He and his team analyze and identify transmission disruptions and faults in real-time and provide an estimated fault location for line workers so that any necessary repairs can be made – all without a flicker.
A graduate of distribution protection, the North Coast district engineer and his highly specialized team operate behind the scenes to produce well-designed protective relaying and control schemes; then analyze fault events to help keep the transmission system safe and reliable.
His attention to detail, technical ability, knowledge sharing, and contributions to improved system protection is getting the fifth-year engineer noticed by his peers. He recently received the company's Engineering Excellence Award for Reliability – a prestigious honor bestowed annually to only a handful of standout engineers.
A Plumber Turned Electrical Engineer
A native of Anaheim, his childhood was less than idyllic. His mother was an imposing figure, keeping him safe and insulating him from bad influences. Growing up, higher education was not part of the plan.
In 2004, he married Yuliana, his high school sweetheart. By late 2010, as the bottom dropped out of the construction market, he was laid off from his job as a Union Plumber Apprentice. Now, with two young boys and the pressure to provide for the family – he searched for a recession-proof career.
Close to 30 years old, with a fascination for complexity and a knack for math, he got a few raised eyebrows – telling friends and family he was going to study to be an electrical engineer.
Yuliana believed in him and the idea. She worked to finance the family and juggle the parenting responsibilities, while Miguel worked part-time, went to school, and studied late into the night. While the reality was years of financial pain and sacrifice for the whole family, he never doubted himself.
Once committed, he started at square one, taking remedial math classes at a junior college to qualify for the more advanced seminars that would count for credit. With a solid foundation under his belt, he was accepted to Cal Poly Pomona’s Electrical Engineering Program.
He missed many family-get-togethers, as Yuliana shepherded the boys between school events and birthday parties. Miguel stayed home to write engineering papers and study for upcoming exams.
School took six long years for Miguel. By then, the boys were old enough to take notice and be proud of their dad. They were acutely aware that dad was at the precipice of something big. They saw first-hand the grit and determination that were now collective family values.
For Miguel, looking back – getting his electrical engineering degree and graduating cum laude, has been one of his proudest accomplishments. Turns out, school and the arduous task of state certification were harder than the job itself.
A Life-Long Learner
Today, Miguel embraces being a life-long learner within the ever-evolving field of electrical engineering. His SPACE (System Protection, Automation & Control Engineering) colleagues have taught him the trade and provided him with support, education, and the foundation to be a part of the best of the best.
He hopes his impact will be so significant that one day it contributes to a future engineering patent within our company's portfolio.
The power grid is one of the greatest engineering feats known to humankind. People like Miguel Vazquez safeguard its safety and reliability.
A desire to lead by example, persevere through adversity, and to contribute to something greater than self, serves as his purpose.
Thank you, Miguel, for sharing your story and all that you continue to accomplish here at SDG&E!