Career Profile: Wearing many hats

Heartland REMC's Neil Draper Discusses The Role of a systems engineer

Posted on Jul 30 2019 in Profile
Heartland REMC System Engineer Neil Draper

Top 3 responsibilities in a day

• Answer questions from consumers about power quality or general engineering issues.

• Check the outages from the previous day to make sure the system’s coordination worked as planned.

• Communicate with my co-workers about various ongoing projects.

What part of your job do you find most fulfilling?

I enjoy figuring out the solution to a unique problem that, once fixed, often makes our system work more efficiently. I take pride and feel a sense of accomplishment when something I worked on makes our consumers’  lives better.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping up with technology and finding solutions to problems that fit our needs. There are often many equipment options and ways to approach something, but it’s important to find the best solution for our electric distribution system. That’s where our network of colleagues at neighboring electric utilities is especially valuable.

Have you had to master new skills in this role?

Without question! Electric utilities are incredibly complex and have many moving parts. As the engineer, I have to know a little about a lot and a lot about little. Mastering job-specific skills has been a large part of being successful in this job.

Why did you choose to work for an electric cooperative?

I was ready to work in a smaller company where values and integrity are paramount. My family is also very important to me. Working for a local electric utility allows me to be near them without the concern of a corporate relocation. 

How would you describe working for a co-op?

It allows you to wear a lot of hats and get experience in many different areas. Some days I’m in the office all day working on something at my desk. Other days I’m harnessed on top of a power transformer in a substation preparing for maintenance. I love the diversity!