Celebrating National Engineers Week: Nicole Bavard, Troubleshooter Extraordinaire

We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating during National Engineers Week: engineers play a critical role in the everyday functioning of our society, from delivering clean energy and water to launching communications satellites that enable information to move at the speed of light.

So, in honor of all the engineers in our midst, today we are going to spotlight one of our own: Nicole Bavard, an operations and engineering manager at SDG&E.

What’s an engineer?

“To me, an engineer is not so much a profession as it is a brain type,” Bavard said. “You have an innate desire to get to the bottom of things and find out why things work the way they do.”

Bavard puts her brain to the test every day. She manages a team of engineers, as well as the company’s first responders—the troubleshooters who first arrive on the scene to respond to outages and other problems.

“We determine if it’s an isolated incident, the source of the problem and how to respond safely and efficiently to meet the needs of customers.”  Safety is always top of mind for Bavard. Her teams are in the field at all hours of the day and night, working in conditions that require close attention to detail.

“A lot of my job is communicating with our troubleshooters in the field,” she said. “They depend on me to give them the tools and information they need to provide reliable power to our customers, and get them home safely to their families once the job is done.”

Electric genes

Bavard’s path toward engineering began in Alaska. Her father, an electrical lineman at a local utility in the last frontier, encouraged her interest in math and science from a young age. “My dad knew I had that type of brain – always trying to figure things out and see how they work,” she said. “He knew I was going to be an engineer before I did.”

For college, she came south to become an Aztec. Fate took her by the hand in 2009 when she heard SDG&E would be on campus to share information about internship opportunities – and free pizza.

“I went for free pizza and left with an internship,” Bavard recalls.

That was nine years ago.

“My internship at SDG&E was the turning point in my career,” she said. “After that experience, I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to do it. The hardest part was calling my dad and telling him I was staying in San Diego.”

What she loves about her job

“My job is different every day, I always have to be on my toes, anticipating what may come next,” Bavard said. “I’m constantly figuring things out and learning how to best tackle each situation, so we can provide safe and reliable power. I like the challenge.”