“We’ve lost close to 100 years of experience and knowledge to retirement just in the past four years alone,” said Jeremy Bynum, acting electric division manager at Ketchikan Public Utilities (KPU) in Ketchikan, Alaska.
His right hand, Dennis Moody, is gearing up to retire soon. The loss of Moody would add another 40+ years of knowledge deficit to that running total. Moody, an electrical engineer by training, is indispensable to the operations of Ketchikan Public Utilities. From in-home repairs for customers to troubleshooting issues at the different facilities managed by Ketchikan Public Utilities, Dennis Moody has become a master-of-all-trades, “I am ready for them to hire someone for me to train. You don’t get the type of experience I have in schools,” he says.
When you speak to power generators and the organizations that support them across the industry, Moody’s sentiment is echoed again and again.
This year, at the industry’s annual conference + trade show Clean Currents, the National Hydropower Association (NHA), working with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project and the Hydropower Foundation, is offering a series of activities, under the umbrella of what’s called the ‘NextGen’ Initiative.
Specifically, the groups are working together to use NHA’s Clean Currents event as a venue to:
- Interact with high school educators who are influential in exposing the next generation to facts about electricity technologies and generation
- Expose high school students to a day of learning about waterpower … the technology as well as the career opportunities
- Connect close-to-graduating university and technical trade school students with professionals in the waterpower industry, with the objective of raising awareness of career opportunities in this industry
BRINGING EDUCATORS, STUDENTS OUT OF THE CLASSROOM
During Clean Currents, the NEED Project, which designs and delivers comprehensive, objective curricula and information about the scientific concepts of energy and the sources of energy, is bringing high school educators to the Sacramento Convention Center, the venue for Clean Currents, for an in-service training. On Thursday, October 20, the teachers will be treated to a day of vital training on how to include waterpower in their classroom curriculum. They will also have a change to observe CC Central to see the industry in action. This workshop is free to educators who teach 6th – 12th grade classes on technology, environmental science, physical science, and physics.
In addition, NEED, in partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), will host local (to Sacramento) high school students, in a day of exploring hands-on activities to understand the science and engineering behind hydropower and marine renewable energy. They will hear from industry speakers and visit the Clean Currents’ CC Central area to learn about careers in waterpower.
EXPOSING THE INDUSTRY TO SOON-TO-GRADUATE STUDENTS
Last year at this time, Colin Sarasthav was pursuing his PhD at the University of Tennessee when he participated in the Hydropower Foundation’s “Hydro Think Tank Unplugged” student competition at the 2021 edition of Clean Currents.
Since then, Sarasthav became a hydropower engineer for the U.S. Department of Energy, and he attributes some of his success to Clean Currents, saying, “Being a part of Clean Currents helped introduce me to the hydropower community and established connections that have been indispensable in my job at the Department of Energy.”
This year, during Clean Currents, the Hydropower Foundation is organizing an entire day of activities for Sacramento-area university and trade school students on Wednesday, October 19th, called Hiring for Hydro Unplugged.
During the day, the participating students will:
- Experience the Opening Plenary Session of Clean Currents
- Participate in an educational workshop about careers in waterpower
- Explore CC Central to meet companies, interact with attendees, attend sessions, and learn about potential job possibilities
- Enjoy the Clean Currents Official Networking Social: Celebrate Waterpower! at the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity