“Let there be light” could have been Dan Williams’ motto. Dan retired in late 2018 after 33 years with Entergy, an electric utility that covers parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, and currently has 2.9 million retail electric customers.
Dan spent the last few years of his career as a construction engineer building transmission lines and substations. His career also included stints as a system protection and control engineer, manager of distribution design for the eastern portion of Entergy’s Texas territory, and supervisor of transmission construction for Entergy’s entire Texas territory.
As manager of distribution design, he and his team of professionals were responsible for bringing power to newly developed areas as well as maintaining the system of wires, transformers and poles utilized across Southeast Texas. Dan managed a team of 15 distribution designers, 2 right of way representatives and administrative support personnel.
As supervisor of transmission construction, he and his team of employees wrote and administered contracts and managed the activities of contractors building transmission lines and substations.
A native of Beaumont, Texas, Dan’s first job in engineering was at Continental Electronics Manufacturing Co. in Dallas where as a co-op student he designed control boxes assisted in wiring components for transmitters. Continental built large-scale radio transmitters such as those used by the Voice of America.
Upon graduation from Lamar University in 1985, Dan started work at Entergy’s predecessor, Gulf States Utilities in Conroe and then Port Arthur, Texas. In 1990, he moved to Beaumont as a system protection and control engineer. There, his work focused on computer systems installed in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and Conroe operating divisions. He and his co-workers maintained the “brains” of duplicate computer systems and databases that contained the status of all tele-metered devices as well as load levels on lines and power transformers.
In 1994, Williams was promoted to senior relay engineer and was part of a group responsible for final checkout of remote terminal units and relay installation projects. He also supported installation and maintenance of this equipment. His promotions within the Entergy Corporation continued, including to the posts of senior reliability engineer, senior asset planning engineer, supervisor of transmission construction supervisor and manager of distribution design. As a senior reliability engineer, Williams was responsible for planning for the future growth of his assigned areas. He conducted load studies, fault current analyses, and developed voltage profiles.
Dan returned to Lamar University part-time and received his Master of Business degree, with an emphasis in finance in 2010.
Regarding his personal interests and volunteer efforts, Dan and his wife Beverly have participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for the last 7 years or so. As VITA volunteers, they have to pass tests and obtain certifications from the IRS each year in order to prepare income tax returns for low-income individuals free of charge, on a voluntary basis. Dan is a long-time financial securities investor and currently manages his own portfolio. He has been a member of an investment club consisting of a group of friends and acquaintances for the last 20 years and has recently helped several members of his extended family establish an investment club.
Williams has tutored math with public school students for the last 40 years on a voluntary basis, regarding the effort as a ministry and opportunity to “pay it forward”.
When he talks to youth about a career in engineering, he encourages them on the importance of teamwork. “No man is an island. Don’t be reluctant to reach out for help.” There are lots of people willing to help but they will not walk up to you and say what can I do to help you, but they will help you if you ask them. This is particularly important in college academics,” Williams explained.
Dan is the father of 5 sons in a blended family, and a member of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. He is a past member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Institute for Electrical & Electronic Engineers, and a current member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont.