Retired U.S. Navy
For an electrician thinking about finding a new job, it’s appropriate to have a light bulb moment.
On his way to Coors Field to watch Rockies game, Emery was riding light rail when he happened to glance over at a traction power substation.
That’s a large piece of complicated electrical equipment that probably goes unnoticed by the average RTD customer. But a traction power substation is key to light rail. The stations convert electricity from the power company to the right current for light rail cars. For a guy with extensive electrical experience, including six years in the U.S. Navy, gazing at the substation was a galvanizing moment.
And the light bulb went off.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that’s right. This stuff is all electric. I could do this.’ So I got on to RTD’s website and found a signal/traction power position and applied,” Emery said.
At the time, Emery was working as an electrician in a brick factory. He hated breathing the dust and dirt. A job at RTD, Emery realized, might offer the perfect escape.
Emery, drawing on previous jobs as well as the confidence and experience he had gained when he served on two ships for the U.S. Navy, got hired. And he hasn’t looked back, even though there was a steep learning curve to RTD’s electrical systems.
“It was very hard,” Emery said. “Railroad is a lot different than anything else, even in all my experiences as an industrial electrician. I mean, I could apply it, but some of the ways RTD does things are really different.”
Emery spent a few years as a signal traction power maintainer and then was promoted to supervisor. Five years later, he was promoted again to instructor.
Emery was always a quick learner. He scored well on entrance exams coming into his military service. But growing up in the small Oregon town of Canby, about 25 miles south of Portland, Emery was “pretty timid … I was basically a farm boy from a small town.”