As the economy recovers attention returns to one of the most pressing challenges facing the electric power generation industry: its workforce.
Professionals working in the “traditional” power generation sector-in nuclear and fossil-fired plants-continue to age and move toward retirement. Their jobs will need to be filled. At the same time, employment in the renewable energy sector is accelerating. These positions, too, will need to be filled.
The challenge for our industry comes in attracting and retaining smart, dedicated and creative professionals who will lead the next generation of power industry professionals.
Three years ago our sister magazine Power Engineering launched with the help of the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) a competitive academic scholarship for high school students who are entering college with an eye toward the power industry as their career choice. Since The Next Generation Scholarship Fund started we have given $60,000 in scholarships to 12 outstanding students who are pursuing engineering studies at places like the University of Cincinnati, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Harvey Mudd College and MIT. Our scholarship students are known as Blankinship Scholars, in memory of our colleague Steve Blankinship, who was a great supporter of the initiative.
The scholarship is driven primarily by our industry. A small but growing number of companies and organizations fund it through donations to JETS, which, as a 501c3 organization, means all contributions are fully tax deductible.
Our contributors include Alstom Power, Exelon Generation, General Physics, the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, Bechtel Power, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, CH2M Hill, Ingersoll Rand, Earl Beckwith & Associates, the Edison Electric Institute and EXCEL Services Corp.
A steering committee made up of volunteers from the industry reads essays written by our scholarship hopefuls and selects the winning candidates. Steering committee members include Toni Martin from Hitachi Power Systems, Joe Nasal from General Physics, Franklin O. Moore from the National Society of Black Engineers, Nancy Mohn from Alstom Power and Betty Shanahan from the Society of Women Engineers. Megan Balkovic from JETS and I also serve as steering committee members.
So what does this have to do with you? Frankly, we could use your financial support to help sustain the scholarship. We encourage donations of anything from $1,000 to $5,000 (and are happy to take more!). All donations are tax deductible. And 100 percent of what we raise we give away as scholarships. PennWell, which publishes this magazine, pays a separate administrative fee to JETS.
We also need your involvement to excite our Blankinship Scholars about the industry and career opportunities available to them. Our LinkedIn page (JETS Next Generation Scholarship) is a place to post information about internships and career opportunities. Join the LinkedIn group and help our students network with the industry.
Earlier this spring one of our most recent scholarship winners, Nicole Businelli, a freshman studying engineering and sustainability at Princeton, sent me a note to say she is now part of Princeton’s chapter of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy. “We just submitted our entry to IAHE’s International Hydrogen Energy Design Competition,” she wrote. “If you are interested, check out our short video: http://www.princeton.edu/~iahe/.” Have a look and then give me a call to become involved in our scholarship. My number is 918-831-9866. Or send me an email ([email protected]).
Together, we can build the next generation of power industry professionals.