Seattle City (spot)Light: Jessica Coleman

Electrical Engineer Jessica Coleman began her City Light career as an intern with Energy Delivery Engineering’s Street Lighting team. She later became a full-time employee with the Generation Operations and Engineering division. “I work mostly on capital projects,” Jessica explained. “I can be assigned to any electrical project within our six powerhouses. For example, I was part of the team that did bank replacements at Ross powerhouse; I drafted connection drawings and things like that.”

Jessica grew up in Iowa. “I lived in Des Moines which is a small town, but is probably one of Iowa’s bigger towns,” she said with a laugh. “A few of my friends were living in Portland, Oregon and I decided to make the move and join them.” Eventually, she ended up in Seattle and lives in First Hill with her husband Jeff.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Jessica talks about her career path and shares her creative flair.

Jessica and Jeff

“I like to do stuff with my hands, get crafty. I knit and crochet. For a while, I had a shop on Etsy. I don’t know remember how I started, but I’ve been slowly improving through the years. I want to expand my repertoire and move on from hats and scarves to sweaters. I’ve also made jewelry. In fact, once I started electrical engineering I began to make jewelry out of electrical components!”

“Jeff and I also love live music. We catch different concerts around town. My favorite venue is the Neptune Theatre. It has a great space, is more intimate, and the vibe of the crowd is a bit different from other places. We’re also season ticket holders to the Seattle Opera. I also volunteer at the Seattle Public Library as an usher for special events, usually an author reading from their new book. I really enjoyed Vaddey Ratner who wrote In the Shadow of the Banyan. I usually read sci-fi; her novel was a huge departure for me.”

“My job is fun. It’s interesting. Basically, everything I hoped it would be when I went into engineering. But it wasn’t always that way. When I graduated high school, I wanted to get a degree in fine arts and a minor in anthropology. I never finished, though. I worked different jobs—was even a hair dresser for a long time—but it was my husband who sparked my interest in this field. He’s a software engineer. I knew I wanted to do something that was helpful, that benefitted others. I also wanted a career that had long term stability. So, after many years, I went back to school and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in electrical engineering.”

“I picked power as my concentration because I knew the energy landscape was changing and I wanted to be part of integrating renewables into the existing grid. I feel good about working for City Light because we recognize our impact on the environment and do things to mitigate it. I chose this job over other companies because I believe we’re headed in the right direction. My time at our hydro facilities has also given me a better understanding of what our impact is on both nature and the community of people who were here long before we built our dams. I feel like I can make a difference here.”