Scholarship Winner Comes Full Circle

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Education > LANL employee fund drive wrapping up

Coming home to Los Alamos was an easy decision for Steven Honig, a 2002 Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees’ Scholarship winner.


Now a Research and Development Engineer III in the Global Security Directorate at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he is senior engineer responsible for analog and digital circuits. Growing up on the Hill, he always enjoyed the small town pace and the surrounding plateaus and mountains. In fact, as a boy he considered becoming a forester so he could enjoy the outdoors all the time.

The lab, he says, allows him the responsibility and freedom to do the type of research and problem solving that commercial engineering firms wouldn’t. And he gets the added benefit of backpacking, camping in the forests, climbing the rock faces and skiing Pajarito Ski Area. Skiing was a sport he took up at 16, rather late in life for Los Alamos residents, because his parents, natives of Texas, didn’t ski.

“My mom would sit with a cup of tea and look out the window and wait for the snow to melt,” Honig recalls.

When he was a student at Los Alamos High School with a four-plus grade average because of advanced placement studies, and a varsity athlete, he dared dream he would become a rich and famous computer guru and a billionaire at 25. “Then reality set in,” said the 28-year-old.

Thanks to a tuition rate that was close to in-state payments and his scholarship, he attended Montana State University – again so he could enjoy the outdoors while studying engineering and earning his bachelor’s degree with highest honors in computer engineering with a minor in physics. His master’s degree in science is from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he studied Electronics and Photonics.

He is grateful he did not have to work during college or graduate with student debt. His parents helped him out with the $200-$700 he was short each semester. “I am appreciative of my family and the employees and the LANL Foundation that awarded me scholarships for four years; it enabled me to focus on school.”

Funding for the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund comes from donations by LANL employees and a matching amount from Los Alamos National Security, LLC.

Honig comes from a LANL family. His father, Emanuel, came to the Lab in 1975 as an electrical engineer after flying transport planes for the Air Force. His sister, Kristen, works in OI-PO Infrastructure and Planning; and is brother-in-law, Heath Watkins, works in AOT Instrumentation and Control.

Because of the scholarships “pipeline to employment,” Honig worked as a student at the lab from 2002-2007, first as an undergraduate in the Nonproliferation and International Security Division and later in the Intelligence and Space Research Division, an internship where he provided electromagnetic and mechanical analysis of complex systems.

He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi.

Rather impressive for a youth who dreamed of protecting the forests. He thinks of himself as a problem solver. And he relishes the time he can spend outdoors with friends and his wife, Jennie, who works with Los Alamos Visiting Nurses and also Rebound Physical Therapy.

The only thing that troubles him about coming home is the ravages of the Las Conchas and Cerro Grande fires. “I feel a certain sadness and sorrow at what the fires have taken from the landscape,” Honig says, “but I know much of it will come back in time for my children to enjoy.”

Laboratory employees may make contributions to the LAESF scholarship through the online Oracle system. Others may give through lanlfoundation.org/scholarships/. LANS matches up to $250,000 toward the campaign goal of $500,000.