The future of the United States’ waterpower industry is dependent on workers. With almost a quarter of the active hydropower workforce eligible for retirement by 2030, the industry must invest in students to ensure President Biden’s goal of securing a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Toward that call for investment in students, a group of past chairs of the National Hydropower Association’s board of directors created the Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship in 2008 to help fund expenses for a student pursuing studies related to waterpower, and, by doing so, encourage students to consider becoming part of the U.S. waterpower industry.
Kimberly Costner, NHA’s director of operations and the scholarship administrator, spoke to the importance of the Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship:
“The scholarship program is envisioned to grow national hydropower resources by attracting students and young professionals to industry-related fields including new and emerging hydropower engineering technologies, earth sciences, environmental resource management and regulation, land and shoreline management, public policy and stakeholder collaboration. We have now awarded the scholarship to 15 undergraduate students from 13 universities (for a list of past winners, click here and scroll down the page).”
Applications for the 2023 scholarship have closed, and the application period for 2024 will open in February, 2024.
MEET THE 2023 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: CESAR BEDOLLA-HURTADO
Cesar grew up in Washington state, and when he was in elementary school his class frequently went on trips to nearby dams. Through this introduction, he developed an interest in how electricity is generated and the structures that hold back water, eventually leading to the pursuit of a degree in engineering.
Currently, Cesar is a senior at the School of Engineering at Washington State University and his concentration is in structures. In the fall of 2023, Cesar will continue his education at Washington State University, where he’ll be working on a master’s degree in structural engineering. “On the West Coast, we have to think about how we manage our water. Structural engineering is really the foundation of it all.”
The Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship has already served as an important support in Cesar’s education, and when he spoke with POWERHOUSE, he explained the scholarship’s benefits:
“Because of the financial support, I don’t need to worry about working 40 hours a week to afford my tuition bill, so it gives me peace of mind, and it has been important in helping me do all of the things I’ve accomplished; I wouldn’t have been able to start my master’s program this year if I wasn’t awarded the NHA Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship.”
This summer, Cesar has a structural engineering internship with KPFF Consulting Engineers in Seattle, Washington, where he’ll get to develop hands on experience and learn about the wide-variety of projects that one of the largest civil and structural firms in the U.S. is working on.
With a bright future ahead of him, Cesar expressed his appreciation for the NHA Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship: “Its great to know that I can get in contact with NHA for advice and connection, and it’s a comfort to know that I’m being supported in my education and my career.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Past Chairs’ Legacy Scholarship is made possible because of the generous donations from past chairs of the association’s board of directors, NHA, the Hydropower Foundation, organizations throughout the industry, and other individual givers.
For more information on the scholarship, click here.