A tip of a hat

A look at the career of Julio Martinez-Llanos

Anticipating the roar of a jet engine, a 5-year-old boy stares up at the sky at a naval base in Puerto Rico. Louder than he ever expected, he covers his ears, forgetting about the soda in his hand. He reaches down to pick up the soda can, but a helping hand is already there. Startled again, the boy accidently knocks the hat off of the friendly stranger. He picks up the hat to return it to its owner, a Navy captain. The captain gives the boy his hat and starts him on a journey from Puerto Rico that leads to Harris Nuclear Plant.

From that unexpected start, Julio Martinez-Llanos entered the United States Navy and got a scholarship to the State University of New York, where he earned a degree in telecommunications, which matched his interest in technology and service.

“I’d seen it in the movies. I wanted to see the real thing,” Julio said. “I wanted to be in the ‘island’ — the control tower — and see all the equipment and technology they had.” However, Julio credits boot camp as the most formative part of his experience, especially in preparing him for his career in nuclear energy.

“The main thing that being in bootcamp taught me was to not be afraid of myself, of asking for help because I knew that everything that I did, other people would depend on it,” he remembered.

After leaving the military, Julio worked in the telecommunications industry for several years before making the transition to the utility industry. First, he began designing the electrical layout for new subdivisions to power Florida and Carolina communities, where he was again at the center of the action.

Julio first storm duty assignment in 2002
Julio's first time on storm duty in 2002

Moving from the drawing board to the field, Julio transitioned to a field engineering role in the North Coastal Region in Florida with the Distribution Asset Engineering group for Progress Energy, where he surveyed locations and worked with line crews to implement projects for customers. During this time, he built camaraderie with line workers and got to see the technology he was designing up close and in person.

With experience in distribution and transmission, Julio was ready for a career move toward generation and had his eye on a nuclear site. At first, he began supporting Duke Energy’s nuclear sites from the Raleigh office but moved to the Harris Nuclear Plant in configuration management.

“This has been a great group to work with, and the whole Harris site is such a fun place,” Julio shared.

Configuration management was a perfect fit for Julio based on his experiences from design and fieldwork and strengths in relationship building.

“To put configuration management simply, it’s like an equilibrium pyramid. We have to make sure that what is physically in the plant matches our regulatory requirements (what should be there) as well as our internal drawings and documents (what we say is there),” Julio explained. “When it doesn’t, we have to work with multiple groups to make changes and updates to make it all match exactly.”

Once again, Julio found himself at the center of the action.

Julio at Harris Nuclear Plant first culture day
Julio at the Forever Indigenous celebration at Harris Nuclear Plant

“What motivates me is the people,” he smiled. “If I need to go on-site and look at equipment or have a question about anything, there’s always somebody who is going to say, ‘Come here. Let me

show you this.’ You’re never going to stop learning until you retire from here.”

In addition to his demanding job, Julio heads up the Employee Engagement Team at Harris.  This employee resource group is a collection of employees from multiple departments who volunteer to help enhance their colleagues’ work lives.

“At Harris, people will always find an opportunity to have fun,” he laughed. “But we also work on problems to come up with solutions to improve the site for everyone.”

Looking back on his career so far, Julio admits, “It has been a roller coaster!”

Despite the ups and downs, Julio never lets himself forget a lesson or a person, as evidenced by the Navy captain’s hat that he keeps from all those years ago.

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