Seattle City (spot)Light: Tanya Panomvana

Electrical Power Systems Engineer Tanya Panomvana has been at City Light for nearly 11 years. As part of the Energy Delivery Engineering division, she works in the services group at North Service Center. “The basic job of a service engineer is to design how a building will get served from the main distribution system,” Tanya explained. “I work on customer initiated projects, including most of the new buildings in construction on Dexter Avenue.”

Born and raised in the Northwest, Tanya lives in her hometown of Lynnwood with her two Shih Tzus, Lily and Snoopy. She graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in math. This June, she’ll graduate from the Technology Management MBA program at UW. In this week’s (spot)Light, Tanya talks about her job and what she enjoys about her role.

Tanya with her Shih Tzu, Lily

“I always wanted to do something with math. I love math, but wasn’t sure what I could do with it other than be a teacher. I started to consider the different fields where I could use math, and, over time, I learned about engineering. It was interesting to me; I wanted to design things. Originally, I wanted to get into computer engineering, but it was super competitive at the UW. An advisor suggested electrical engineering as an alternative and I really liked it. I decided on power as a specialty because people will always need it which makes it a stable career choice.  I also knew I could transfer this skill to anywhere in the country since every place has a utility.”

“When a new building is being built an application is filed with City Light, so that the building can have power. The services group will then tell the customer what they need to build to get service. If it’s a bigger building, they would need a vault. We would tell them the size of the vault, what conduits go to which facility and then we would pull the cable and do all the installation of the electrical equipment. So, I do a lot of the services. I also work on designing parts of the main distribution in the right of way. If the system needs to be undergrounded, reconductored, upgraded, or re-routed because of a service project then I would design that, too.”

“I like engineering because it’s different every day. Each project is totally different from the next, from the project you just completed to the project you worked on five years ago. They’re all different. Even if you think it’s simple, it can turn out to be complicated and vice versa. I like how it’s unpredictable.”

“During my senior year of college, I interned at City Light. After college, I took a job in Kansas City, but a year into that, City Light called to tell me there was an opening. I applied for that position and here I am. My whole adult life and career has been focused on working at City Light. My aunt, Alisara, also works here which helped me to know that this was a good fit. I also love the people I work with. I’ve been in many different groups, but I’ve always been surrounded by wonderful people.”