Jonathan Saxon is one of the first individuals to join the inaugural class of the New York State Excelsior Fellowship Program. He graduated from Morehouse College in May of 2013, and started working for the New York Power Authority (NYPA) this past September under the tutelage and leadership of Brian Warner, NYPA’s director of policy analysis and external communications.
As a part of NYPA’s Public and Governmental Affairs group in Albany, Saxon’s primary responsibility includes tracking and analyzing legislation that could have an effect on how NYPA conducts business. His job also includes interacting with state and local lawmakers, serving as a liaison between NYPA and its stakeholders.
In the coming two years, Saxon plans on absorbing as much knowledge and information as possible, picking up skills that he can use and transfer to any future career opportunities, and meeting with people in the ongoing pursuit of building a healthy, functioning professional network. After his time with the Power Authority, he plans on going to graduate school to pursue his JD/MBA.
Saxon is excited for the opportunities and challenges that NYPA and Government Relations will present. It is Jonathan’s goal that, after his two years as an Excelsior Fellow, he will be able to look back on his work and contributions as a public employee for the State of New York with pride.
The New York State Excelsior Fellowship Program was established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year to bring highly talented college graduates of colleges, universities, graduate, law and business schools into government service. Read more about the program.
Scottish-native, Lena Smart joined New York Power Authority in 1996 as an IT Help Desk Contractor. After a stint on Wall Street, Lena returned to NYPA in 2003 to head and build the Authority’s Cyber-Security team. Lena will speak at the WICE NY Conference on Cyber-Security on November 4th.
- How did you get started working in cyber security? I watched the movie War Games when I was 16, and that opened my eyes to the interesting things that computers could be used for.
- What surprises you most about working in cyber security? The constant change in technology.
- What are you working on now? We are building a brand new network for NYPA’s operations circuits. It’s very exciting and I’m enjoying it. We are breaking our network in two. One network will be used for Business type traffic – email & file sharing. The other half will be an Operations Network. This will allow us to proactively manage our critical circuits, and also maintain an accurate inventory of critical communications equipment that is available to Site and Corporate staff via a database.
- What is your advice to women getting started in your field? Stand your ground. Learn your craft and become an expert. Then it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. People will respect you for your knowledge, not your gender.
- Do you mentor? Yes. Both with the NYPA program and unofficially. I enjoy mentoring, particularly when I am able to help someone with a problem that they thought was insurmountable. I also like to teach people about cyber security, and how best to protect themselves from the “trolls” or “identity thieves” that lurk on the internet.
- You mentioned that playing the cello is essential to your work-life balance? I received the cello as a gift, some years ago. I always wanted to learn how to play it, after hearing Jacqueline Du Pre play an Elgar Concerto, when I was 11 years old. I’ve been playing for about 5 years.
- Besides, playing the cello? Tell me something else about yourself – anything? I don’t have a college degree in computer science, but I taught myself how to work with computers, networks and programming.
- What do you think about this statement? “Everything is moving online. Today, it seems that people and companies are putting every aspect of their lives and work on the internet.” Two words – Edward Snowden. He lifted the lid on secrets, and you can’t close that box now it’s opened up to the world. If people want to have privacy, stay away from the Internet. Once you put something online, it’s there forever. Whether you like it or not.
BuildSmart NY is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for pursuing energy efficiency in government buildings across New York State, which will result in approximately $100 million in annual state budget savings and cut millions of tons in greenhouse gases. NYPA is working hard to help State agencies meet a goal of 20% improvement in energy efficiency by April 2020.
No plan is complete without the people who help build it, so we wanted to introduce you to NYPA’s BuildSmart NY team.
Lloyd Kass, Director, BuildSmart NY @Lloyd_Kass
Jake Berlin, Project Specialist, BuildSmart NY @jakoberlin
Kaela Mainsah, Analyst, BuildSmart NY @KaelaMainsah
Gabe Cowles, Project Manager, BuildSmart NY @uvmgabe
We would encourage you to follow them on Twitter as they highlight BuildSmart NY progress or share interesting facts about the initiative, such as:
- Buildings consume approximately 60% of the total energy used within New York State and emit approximately 50% of the greenhouse gases released in the State.
- State owned buildings consume approximately 3,000 GWh annually, which is approximately 5% of the energy consumed by all buildings throughout the state.
- New York State owns approximately 224 million square feet of real estate, which includes universities, prisons, mental health hospitals, office buildings, and facilities that house its trains, buses and equipment.
To learn more about BuildSmart NY and to check out projects that are happening in your area, click here.
The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides high-performing students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest state public power organization. This summer, 19 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the intern program. Every Friday, we will feature one summer intern and provide a weekly snapshot of their internship experience.
Alex Ludewig, a senior at Penn State, is majoring in Electrical Engineering. At NYPA, Alex worked work the Operations Support Services work group located in White Plains, NY.
My internship at New York Power Authority was incredibly beneficial. I learned skills and techniques that I would have never learned in a classroom. NYPA provided me with a solid foundation and a level of confidence that I will be able to carry with me throughout my career.
This summer I was involved in Transmission Life Extension and Modernization, a project that spans across all of New York State. I also worked on a project that required the re-tensioning of transmission lines. The lines were found to be at risk of flashovers (POWER FACT: a ‘flashover’ is where electricity will jump over a small distance to reach earth. In order to prevent this happening, there are minimum safety clearances between overhead lines and the ground, roads or objects on which a person can stand.) and it was my responsibility to organize and procure the means to repair these lines – project management 101!
In my time at NYPA, I met countless bright, friendly and passionate professionals. I was able to apply all that I have learned about electrical engineering at school to NYPA operations, providing me with a better understanding of how to focus my education in order to apply it to real world objectives. I am grateful to have been a part of this organization and the experience it has provided me.
The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides high-performing students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest state public power organization. This summer, 19 undergraduate and graduate students are participating in the intern program. Every Friday, we will feature one summer intern and provide a weekly snapshot of their internship experiences.
Andrew Thibado, a junior at SUNY Institute of Technology, Utica, is majoring in Computer Engineering Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology, with a minor in Computer Science, Information Systems, and Mathematics. At NYPA, Andrew worked at the Energy Control Center (ECC) located at the Frederick R. Clark Energy Center in Marcy N.Y.
The internship program at NYPA was a great experience for me, both in knowledge gained and exposure to the workplace. I had the privilege of working at the Clark Energy Center in the Energy Control Center (ECC), where I have been able to observe the power grid as a whole through operations and technical support. I have learned so much about electrical engineering through this real world experience and I know it will be extremely beneficial to me in my future endeavors.
I have been able to work on many issues and tasks that the engineers here at the ECC are faced with every day. I was fortunate to assist in developing a formula to calculate the number of pump hours it takes to fill the upper reservoir at NYPA’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power Plant. I also helped update the network model of the New York grid, providing me with an in-depth look at the entire power system across New York State – including NYPA-owned assets. I also took the lead in redesigning the ECC website which provided me with valuable experience in coordinating a project.
My time at NYPA has been a great experience and has helped me reaffirm my career goals and future aspirations, which is the power utility field. I would specifically like to thank my co-workers Brent Blanchard and Chris Powers, along with my supervisor Derrick Piper.
The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides high-performing students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization. This summer, 19 undergraduate and graduate students are participating in the intern program. Every week, we will feature one summer intern and provide a weekly snapshot of their internship experiences.
Parisa Fardanesh, a Manhattan College senior, is majoring in Civil Engineering. At NYPA, Parisa worked in the Civil/Structural Engineering work group.
My intern experience with New York Power Authority was extremely valuable. Over the course of the internship I was able to work on and be a part of various projects which have expanded my knowledge of the power industry. I admire how friendly the work environment is at NYPA, and appreciate those who have taken the time to teach me about different projects and answer my questions. The opportunity to learn about what others do here has shown me that everyone plays an integral role in working towards NYPA’s mission.
Since the Civil/Structural Engineering work group does such a wide variety of work jobs – ranging from design to rehabilitation, to inspections and emergency planning – I was able to observe many things. Some of my internship highlights include learning about flashboards and being able to see flashboard pins being tested. I also enjoyed being able to see robotic innovation at the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant, where robotic equipment that would advance operational performance and longevity of power facilities was demonstrated.
Interning at NYPA has proved to be a very valuable opportunity. I have learned to multitask, prioritize projects and communicate with others to get the job. Most importantly, it was rewarding to feel like a part of the team.
The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides high-performing students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization. This summer, 19 undergraduate and graduate students are participating in the intern program. Every Friday, we will feature one summer intern and provide a weekly snapshot of their internship experiences.
Justin Jackson, a Clarkson University senior, is majoring in Civil Engineering. At NYPA, Justin works in the General Maintenance work group which is responsible for civil/structural and facility maintenance at the St. Lawrence-FDR Hydroelectric Power Project.
My summer with New York Power Authority has been full of opportunities for hands-on learning experience. As a civil engineering intern at the St. Lawrence Power Project, I have been exposed to a number of things ranging from the design of small storage bunkers and a drainage line to assisting field engineers on a piezometer casing replacement. (POWER FACT: A piezometer is an instrument used to measure the water pressure in the ground beneath a water retaining structure.) While participating in the inspection of all four concrete dams, every earthen dike and most of the outlying facilities which encompass the St. Lawrence Power Project, I learned about inspection techniques, FERC requirements, and dam safety surveillance and monitoring equipment.
A big advantage of being an intern on the St. Lawrence Power Project has been the ability to see the Robert Moses Power Dam. One of my most memorable moments of the summer came when I had the opportunity to walk inside the scroll case of a dewatered generating unit.
Overall, my experience at the Power Authority has been fantastic. I have met many knowledgeable people and would specifically like to thank everyone at the St. Lawrence Power Project for the time that was invested in teaching and training me. It has been an incredible way to learn how power is generated and transmitted throughout New York State.