TNMPeople

Meet Jonathan: Electricity With a Side of Rock

TNMPeople introduces you to our folks behind the poles, wires and meters.

Utility engineers sometimes are teased, probably unfairly, for being too "left-brained" and perhaps lacking creative sides.

Don't tell that to Jonathan, an electrical engineer in our Texas City office. The left and right sides of his brain work together very well, thank you.

He has a natural affinity for math, of course, but he's also driven personally by a love of playing music.

"Music really shaped who I am," he says. "I can read it, I can play it and I'll sing it."

Left brain

Engineering was a natural fit for Jonathan. He grew up in El Paso and became the first in his family to earn a college degree when he graduated from UTEP on his mother's birthday.

"I was very active when I was little," he says. "I loved math and I was really bad at reading. I put 2 and 2 together.

"My parents supported it. I decided I'm going to stick to engineering. The math is easy. I'm going to do it."

Jonathan's work on TNMP's electric system across Texas focuses on equipment that detects problems and prevents bigger ones. Although it's very complex equipment, it is conceptually similar to breaker switches in electrical panels of homes or businesses that can cut power to limit or prevent damage.

"We set up protection devices," Jonathan says. "Each device measures current and voltage. If there's a fault or a lightning strike on the line, devices will read it and trip the breaker to kill the power."

Right brain

Jonathan played trumpet and sang in a choir in elementary school, and he was very familiar with "old-school R&B" from his parents. But alternative guitar rock was calling him in his early teens.

"I picked up a guitar and taught myself," he says. "The first song I learned was 'Under the Bridge' by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"My dad had an old Fender classical guitar. I learned how to tune it and started reading tab from there."

That led to electric guitars and, eventually, to playing and singing in a band in El Paso that published original material, based partly on influences that include Audioslave and U2. He's starting to perform in the Texas City area now.

"Being in a band was nerve-wracking when we'd play shows, because I was a shy guy when I was younger," he says. "If I hadn't gotten that experience, I might still be a shy, timid guy."

Next generation

Jonathan and his wife, Noemy, are recently married and don't have kids yet. But when they do …

"I'm going to put them in music," Jonathan says. "When they're in music or dancing or singing, their minds expand."

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