Outstanding Achievement Award — Steve Newton

NETA World StaffNETA News, Summer 2023 NETA News

Eric Beckman (right) Presents Outstanding Achievement Award to Steve Newton

“The 2023 NETA Outstanding Achievement Award recipient holds a passion for the industry, especially when it comes to training electrical technicians and engineers,” said Eric Beckman, NETA President and Vice President of Engineering at National Field Services, as he announced Steve Newton’s name at the PowerTest awards ceremony. For NETA, his influence is far-reaching: CTD Review Committee, Training Committee, exam development SME, NETA World author, and an annual presenter at PowerTest.”

“Steve Newton was a proud member of the U.S. Navy, specifically the Navy nuclear submarine program,” Beckman continued, “and he brings those experiences to us most notably through his work on the Training Committee in developing an apprenticeship program for the electrical testing industry.”

Newton says he was embarrassed, humbled, and amazed that so many people knew about the award but kept it under wraps. “My career path began when I was a self-serving, mean young man who enlisted in the Navy. The Navy sorted me out and I ultimately enjoyed a remarkable, unique, and decorated career based on the concept of selflessness. Don’t misunderstand, we constantly are at war with wanting, and sometimes choosing, to be selfish — me included,” he says. “It requires diligent self-examination to overcome it.”

“When I left the Navy in 1990, I was recruited by Martin Marietta to work on the ISS, but that program was suspended, and my only option was to ride submarines as a civilian technical representative. I couldn’t do that because of my children’s needs. My father, who was an executive and researcher at Dow Chemical, got me a job with a contractor who had a small testing division, and this was the start of my electrical testing career. We were eventually sold to a large nationwide construction company specializing in building power plants, and I became a shareholder. We were later sold again to an even larger international construction company, and I ultimately retired in 2014. I was very fortunate to go to work for National Field Services because I had worked with Eric Beckman as an SME at a professional society. At National Field Services, I moved to technical support, training, and safety and have filled roles with increasingly higher responsibility through the years.”

“I’ve worked with Steve directly for the last eight years and indirectly for over 10 years, and you won’t find a more passionate individual when it comes to electrical testing and safety in our industry,” says Beckman. “He’s one of the few individuals to hold NETA Level 4 and NICET Level IV certifications. He never lets anything take away the focus on what will be his main contribution to the electrical testing industry: creating the apprenticeship program for NETA. It is worth more to him than this award.”

Newton credits his success to one motto:  Never give up. “I was not exactly the best child — rebellious and self-centered — and I abused alcohol. When I joined the Navy to fulfill a dream of serving in submarines, my mother gave me a little wooden block engraved with these simple words: NEVER GIVE UP. Throughout my career, everything I’ve achieved is founded on a deep abiding faith, a tenacious persistence to being the best at whatever I do, the continual pursuit of knowledge, and the realization that others must be more important than me.

Steve Newton Teaching a Class

“Steve’s curiosity stands out to me,” says National Field Service Engineering Manager Bibek Karki. “Even after all these years in the industry, he’s still very curious about the newest technology, test equipment, and apparatus. I also admire the way Steve has adapted and updated his knowledge with time and technology. He has seen so much evolution in technology and has been able to morph himself with it.”

National Field Services Senior Trainer David Drake remembers, “When I was managing power generation facilities, National Field Services (NFS) was our preferred company for performing electrical maintenance. Once I retired, I began researching part-time jobs and noticed NFS had an opening for a trainer. It was a good fit, so I began working for Steve as a part-time trainer in 2017. The goal was for me to begin delivering electrical safety training. Steve was part of the team that developed this curriculum and is actually listed in the Acknowledgement section of the NCCER Managing Electrical Hazards Training Guide, but he insisted I work to be the primary person to teach this class, and he provided the resources and guidance to get it done. Our working relationship allowed Steve time to work on his true passion: developing electricians, technicians, and engineers capable of performing complex electrical tasks and testing.” 

Steve Newton has earned tremendous respect for his contributions to organizations outside of NETA and National Field Services. Elizabeth Douglas, Director, Training and Development at Integrated Power Services, reflects, “Steve is one of those rare employees who are highly experienced, passionate about training and education, and willing to ensure the viability of the overall business. Ensuring the capability of employees is a priority for Steve, which can be directly witnessed in his work in the apprenticeship program as well as other programs he has built over his lifetime. The apprenticeship program Steve has built will continue to assist IPS in its strategy to recruit and retain employees as it directly impacts the overall employee life cycle.”

“Steve has always been a passionate member of our Electrical Subject Matter Expert Committee and has worked on our four-year apprenticeship-style electrical curriculum, as well as specialty safety training such as Managing Electrical Hazards,” says Chris Wilson, Senior Manager of Curriculum Development at NCCER. “I have always leaned on Steve for help understanding the technical aspects of electrical safety and working around electrical hazards. Steve stayed on top of that subject matter on his own, so when it was time to help update our curriculum to new codes and standards, he was always well prepared, and he never failed to deliver on anything he promised. He has also helped us understand various state licensing requirements for electrical work, particularly in the industrial sector. Steve has a passion for electrical work and training, and it really shows when you work with him”

Don Mitchell, a fellow Elder at the Eastside Church of Christ in Denton, Texas, remembers, “When Steve & Donna first moved to Denton, he sought us out as a congregation. He was very outgoing and demonstrated an exemplary love for Christ, and we could see much spiritual growth after just a short time. Steve demonstrated a love for his fellow man and had a special love for the study of the Bible. He wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and work with us whether it was yard maintenance or spiritual studies. We especially appreciate his Bible classes and his care for everyone in the congregation or anyone who visits with us.”


“Steve is one of the most dedicated individuals you will ever find,” says Beckman. “His integrity and ability to be a servant leader have fueled the growth and quality of work at National Field Services. Steve has a passion for training and workforce development, and his commitment has been a huge benefit not only to National Field Services but to the entire industry as a whole.”

Drake adds, “It’s obvious Steve is curious and passionate about the electrical industry and the personnel who work in it. The personal and professional lines are blurred. He loves the work so much that I believe he’d work for free if that was the only way he could participate. This is particularly true with developing electrical craft and electrical testing skills. Steve spent a good portion of his career commissioning electrical systems in industrial facilities. As a result, he’s been involved in resolving the complex problems that are often discovered during the commissioning process. All those problem-solving experiences have made him a subject matter expert. He’s brilliant.”

Newton shares what he believes has been important in his career path. “I never asked for a raise,” he remembers, “but always received raises, stocks, bonuses, and advancement. I simply focused on being the best in the business, and it all came to me. I was lucky to work with a lot of professionals who were a whole lot smarter than me, and I learned from them, but I challenged everything I learned to ensure I had an accurate understanding. I was always studying, always learning.”

“I believe Steve’s work ethic, attention to minute details, and adaptability have led to his success as a power system professional,” recalls Karki. “His work ethic is second to none. I don’t think he allows himself to be bounded by time in his learning process. He also has an uncanny ability to pay attention to details. I have seen him write manuals and literature with very precise details.”


“Steve embodies the Association’s core value of servant leadership,” explains Beckman. If you’ve had the privilege to know him, you know that although he can be very direct, he’s one of the most caring individuals you will find. Even when challenged with health issues, he’s shown tremendous strength and perseverance.”

A common theme from admirers is Newton’s mentoring skills. “Personally, Steve has been a tremendous resource to my career growth,” says Karki. He’s been an excellent teammate, mentor, and friend to me. He might come off as a bit of a harsh guy but deep down, he genuinely cares about the people around him. Our National team is very lucky to have him.”

J.P. Keyes, Regional Instructor Manager/ NCCER ATS Sponsor at National Field Services,says Newton has been a mentor and friend since he recruited him from Houston to work in the Dallas area. “His inspiration and unwavering support were more than enough for me to move my family and start in an unknown area,” Keyes says. “Steve helped me transition from a career in the field to being a full-time instructor. Using the blueprint he has shown me by his actions — not just his words — to overcome any kind of adversity, I am the sponsor for NCCER and a successful electrical instructor with LISD and National Field Services. Now it’s my turn to use my own words to continue his legacy using what he has taught me. My family and I are forever grateful to Steve.”

(from left) Alicia Ruckel, Christina Hodges, Donna and Steve Newton, Tyler Hodges, Samantha Newton, Derek Hodges, and Crystal Newton

“In the time since he developed cancer, we have seen the determination and endurance of a person who loves the Lord through his good times and his bad,” says Mitchell. “Even when his pain was the most difficult to bear, he thanked God for the experience because of all that it taught him. When we hurt, we usually have great difficulty seeing the silver lining in the cloud. That’s not true with Steve. All through his ordeal, his focus was on Christ and what he could learn from the experience. He has learned to care for those who have experienced similar problems and is even more able now to help them see the light. He serves as an elder in our congregation and is a mentor to us all. No one could have a friend as loyal and valuable as Steve Newton.”

Always one to share what he learned, Newton has some advice for those new to the industry. “Participate — get involved with making the industry and the world a better place,” he says. “Strive for excellence in all you do, but serve others. Examine yourself, and always pursue a better you. Don’t be the problem, be the solution. Above all, never give up.”

NETA companies might also benefit from Newton’s experience. “We no longer have the luxury of spending decades to develop our talent,” he points out. “Our workforce has been decimated with the retirement of most of my peers. This field is massive in scope and requires a lot of education and experience to master. If we combine all of the knowledge and experience of NETA’s members, engineers, and technicians, there is still more we don’t know. We must endeavor to infuse our organization with young talent and provide an environment for them to thrive, and NETA needs to help its members recruit and develop this talent, starting with high schools, trade schools, the military, and colleges.”

“Steve was so frustrated with the declining number of quality craftsmen coming into the industry that he developed an apprenticeship program and got it certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),” Drake recalls. “There are students in progress today, and he’s teaching them even though some classes are on nights and weekends.”

Beckman agrees. “Steve never lets anything take away the focus on what will be his greatest contribution to the electrical testing industry: creating the apprenticeship program for NETA. That is worth more to him than this award.”

Newton shares that working all over the country and the world took its toll on his personal life. He recalls that in the early years, bad food and too much alcohol also took their toll. “It took me a few years to learn how to balance my professional and personal life. This is where my faith came from and developed.” In addition to open heart surgery in 2014 and cancer more recently, Newton faced personal issues with marriage, divorce, and raising children. “Life happens,” he points out. “We can either give up or stand up. My wife Donna and I now have six grown children and 12 grandchildren, and we have been married for over 20 years. I would not be successful without her. She deserves this award more than me.”

“I am not sure if this was an original thought or if I ran across it somewhere, but I have lived by it since my time in the military: Excellence is the driven pursuit of perfection with a humble understanding that you will never achieve it. I am and have been a work in progress my whole life. I believe that we all are.” The most successful and content people are those who recognize this, Newton says. His advice: “Embrace constant self-examination, and always strive to improve.” 


Steve Newton, National Training Center Training Program Manager at National Field Service, is also a subject matter expert for the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET); a certified National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Instructor; a Master Trainer for the Instructor Certification Training Program; and a Level IV NETA Certified Senior Engineering Technician in electrical power testing. In addition to his duties at National, Steve is a training consultant at Integrated Power Services (IPS). He is a certified instructor for electrical, instrumentation, electronic, solar, and various power curricula, holds several professional memberships including IEEE and NFPA, and is actively involved in reviewing and developing training and procedural materials for the electrical industry.