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People: Jesse Saldivar Has His Eye on the Goal

Jesse Saldivar. (Photo by Lauren Schenkman. Click for larger image.)

When you're preparing to jump out of a plane at 1200 feet, your life depends on being focused on the task ahead. It's a philosophy Jesse Saldivar took to heart and never forgot. Even though his tour as a paratrooper in the US Army 82nd Airborne Division ended more than 20 years ago, this intense focus is essential to how he conducts his work life.

"My job is a big part of my life," Saldivar said. "I'm very focused on my work."

Saldivar said it's also the reason his career has evolved so much since 1989, when he reported for his first day of work in SLAC's heat, ventilation and air-conditioning group. Saldivar worked his way from the trades into management after earning his bachelor’s degree in business management. For the last four years he's been a university technical representative and senior field construction manager on the Linac Coherent Light Source, overseeing the many aspects of construction, with an emphasis on safety and collaboration between sub-contractors and SLAC.

In December his career underwent another transition. He moved to the lab's Department of Energy Site Office, where his role has become even broader, influencing facilities operations and construction projects site-wide. Right now he's especially excited about the DOE's commitment to green construction and interest in renewable energy.

Saldivar in his days with the Army 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Jesse Saldivar. Click for larger image.)

"It's something I feel strongly about," Saldivar said. "It's one of the reasons I like working for the DOE—we have really become more environmentally conscious."

According to Saldivar, the DOE isn't just responsible for fostering the basic science research that will lead to future green technologies. It should also be a role model in adopting more environmentally friendly habits in the short term.

"The world looks to us to lead in that arena," he said. "Conservation needs to happen at all different levels." So Saldivar is part of the team that makes sure SLAC does its part, both through large-scale initiatives, such as implementing the government's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design benchmarks in new construction, and in small changes, such as automating lighting and air-conditioning so they shut off when they're not needed. It's a challenge, but one that Saldivar has taken up with gusto.

"I love what I do," he said.

With so much on his plate, Saldivar regrets he doesn't have the time for a hobby he'd still like to pursue—sky diving. "It's an adrenaline rush," he said. He recalls his first parachuting experience, during his final week of jump school in Fort Benning, Georgia. His class had to complete five jumps in only a week, from heights of 500 to 2500 feet. "The doors open up, and you look at everyone around you," he said. "Some of them are the trainers, so it’s nothing new to them. But you look at the rest of the guys, and you can tell they're thinking, 'Oh no, what am I doing? What did I get myself into?'"

Although he won't be strapping on a parachute any time soon, Saldivar brings the focus and energy required of a paratrooper to everything he does. "It opened doors in my mind and in my life," he said. "I learned to go above and beyond."

—Lauren Schenkman
SLAC Today, February 4, 2009