Engineering Excellence Awards Highlight Outstanding Contributions

Engineering Excellence Awards Highlight Outstanding Contributions

Our engineering workforce is critical to advancing our mission to build the cleanest, safest, and most reliable energy infrastructure company in America.

Each year, we hold the Engineering Excellence Luncheon, to recognize the efforts and contributions of our engineering workforce. The Engineering Excellence Program has been in place for more than 20 years and is led by directors whose organizations include a large percentage of engineers.  

This year’s luncheon, the first in-person event in several years, was held in May and well attended by our engineers and leadership throughout the company. Estela de Llanos, vice president of energy procurement and sustainability, delivered a keynote speech centered around persevering through adversity, and also touched on what it means to be an engineer in today’s changing world.

“In 2022, Engineering Excellence means building on our strengths and innovating, helping the grid withstand new extremes and perform new functions, and it means thinking about the customer,” said Estela. “It means taking a moment to introduce yourself to a new colleague and offering to help … and asking for help. It means raising your hand when you think you might have a good idea.”

A highlight of the annual event is the awards ceremony, honoring engineers who have made outstanding efforts to advance our company's strategic priorities in areas such as innovation, reliability, diversity and inclusion, and more.

“I’m so happy to recognize this year’s award winners, who exemplify what it means to shape the future of our company,” said Nick Moran, Director of Electrical Engineering. “Their work is critical to the day-to-day success of our operations, as well as to ensuring we continue to innovate with the goal of better serving our customers and communities.”

The award winners this year are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Dave Reistetter, Project Manager III; member of the Gas Operations Region Engineering team with 43 years of dedicated service to SDG&E.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award: Lisa Zelkind, Senior Staffing Advisor; leads Electric Engineering associate and intern recruitment.
  • Merit Award: Laurence Abcede, Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Manager; leads a team working on energy storage projects including the Borrego Springs microgrid, redox flow battery project and Cameron Corners microgrid.  
  • Perseverance Award: Tanya Ivanova, Engineer I, Gas Operations; project engineer in the Line 1600 portfolio.
  • Reliability Award: Miguel Vazquez, Senior Engineer, Electric Engineering; member of the Transmission Protection group within the Systems Protection and Automation Control Engineering (SPACE) team.
  • Up and Comer Award: Stephanie Lomeli, Engineer II, Electric Engineering; lead engineer for the DER Portable Generator Deployment Program.
  • Innovation Award: Arthur Giourdjian, Senior Engineer, Electric Engineering; responsible for protection and special automation projects in SDG&E’s Eastern District.  

In the coming months, we’ll be spotlighting some of these winners and the great work that led to them being recognized. Stay tuned!


About the Engineering Excellence Program

The Engineering Excellence Program aims to further develop our engineering workforce with a focus on strong leadership skills, technical competency, strategic thinking and fostering a bottom-line business perspective. The program is led by the Management Advisory Group (MAG) – made up of directors whose organizations include a large percentage of engineers. As part of the program, the MAG team is also focused on effective recruitment and retention practices.

More than 400 college hires since 1998 have participated in our Associate Engineer rotation and internship programs. Typically, more than half of our recruits each year are people of color, and our female engineers exceed the industry average of females in engineering. Many of our college recruits have become successful leaders at the company, including CEO Caroline Winn; Will Speer, VP of electric engineering and construction; John Jenkins, VP of electric operations; and Tashonda Taylor, VP of gas operations.