Seattle City (spot)Light: Faz Kasraie

From Electrical Engineering Manager to his current position as Generations Operations & Engineering (GO&E) Director, Faz Kasraie has played an active role in City Light’s generation projects since joining the utility in 1983. “I’ll celebrate 35 years with City Light this November,” Faz said. “I started as an assistant electrical engineer and have worked through the ranks across different business units. It’s been rewarding because I got to learn different facets of the utility.”

Born and raised in Iran, Faz moved to the United States after high school. “I didn’t speak a word of English, so I took courses to learn the language,” Faz shared. He enrolled in Oklahoma State University, transferred to the University of Washington and completed his studies at Seattle University, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He later earned a second degree in mechanical engineering.

Faz and his wife Melinda live in northeast Seattle and have two sons Michael and Mark. He’s also an avid biker. “I love biking, it’s recently become a big part of my life,” he shared. “I enjoy big biking events. A few co-workers and I participate in organized rides like RSVP, STP and Cycle Oregon.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Faz talks about the work of his team and what he enjoys about his career.

Faz at the finish line of this year’s Ride from Seattle to Vancouver & Party (RSVP) bike ride

“Before moving here, I came across an article in Time Magazine that featured the first female governor of Washington state. Because that was the cover story, a big chunk of the magazine was focused on Washington. Boeing was huge at the time and it was impressive to me that it was based here. I remember reading the article and thinking that Washington had to be a cool place; it just caught my attention. I also had a friend at UW which helped influence my decision to come here.”

“When I was going to school, power wasn’t a field that was emphasized. I was interested in telecommunications engineering. Fiber optics was just starting to emerge, and the technology was so young. After graduation, I was in downtown Seattle and happened to walk by City Light’s administration office. There were several job listings posted, so I applied and never looked back. That’s the nice thing about electrical engineering—it’s quite diversified. It’s so broad that with a little adjustment and additional training, you can shift your focus and get into a different field than what you originally intended.”

“City Light has three engineering disciplines—electrical, mechanical and civil which also includes structural engineering. Through the years, I’ve managed our electrical engineering staff which supports GO&E operations, including our seven hydrogeneration facilities. That team also provides a variety of electrical engineering support for these facilities. If a generator or power transformer needs troubleshooting, our electrical engineers will get those calls.  They also support the plants themselves.”

“I’ve had great mentors at City Light. They were tremendous assets and helped develop my experience with the utility and the industry. And that’s one thing I’ve tried to do over the years—to provide support and mentorship to our employees. Part of that is to bring new blood into the organization. To teach them, to mentor them, so that when they finish their education they can begin their careers here. It’s been a great success. Many of our students are supervisors, managers and directors, either here or at other utilities. It’s rewarding to see that progression and to see individuals thrive in the industry.”