As the utility that has the privilege of providing energy to the world’s greatest city, Con Edison knows the importance of developing a talented work force.
It takes expertise and sharp critical thinking skills to run energy-delivery systems as large and complex as ours. And it is imperative that we run them well. New York, as the world’s financial capital, home to top hospitals and research labs, and a center of government activity, needs reliable energy.
That’s why Con Edison supports Energy Tech, a grade nine through 14 career education school in Long Island City, Queens.
Energy Tech, a partnership with Con Edison, National Grid, the New York City Department of Education, City University of New York, and LaGuardia Community College, educates young people with a love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
In the school’s first year, Principal Hope Barter and her staff have created an atmosphere that encourages imaginative thinking, intellectual curiosity and teamwork among the 116 students.
“I think we’ve succeeded in building a culture of enthusiasm for learning,” Assistant Principal Karin Wissmann said. “Our students feel like they’re part of a special community of young people who are preparing for careers in interesting fields.”
Energy Tech student Zoe Tsongas, 14, is fascinated by a toy-sized solar-powered car she built. A solar panel generates electricity and copper wiring carries it to the motor.
Zoe said she is interested in solar energy because it is clean and renewable and she recognizes the importance of protecting the environment.
Amiya Induneve, 14, said becoming an aerospace engineer is one of several career paths he is considering.
Amiya was a member of the Energy Tech robotics team, which built a robot that can toss a ball. The team of 20 students also built a website to promote its project.
“This school has engineering and geometry and science and math and those are subjects I like,” he said. “I love technology and I’m looking forward to the college classes I can take here.”
Con Edison’s passion for Energy Tech is born out of the realization that New York City students have faced a growing skills gap the past decade. That has meant fewer opportunities for lower income New Yorkers.
For New York to remain a thriving city, we need to do a better job of getting young people ready for the demanding and highly technical workplace of the 21st century.
Our company provided the Energy Tech staff with input on the intellectual and technical skills that we need in our work force. The staff used this information to align the curriculum with the skills we need.
We worked with National Grid on a couple of hands-on demonstrations for students to show them the type of work we do. The demonstrations included a model of a transmission line, a high-voltage arc, and an infrared camera to show hot spots.
We believe the right strategy for New York’s future is to engage employers in connecting New Yorkers to jobs in growth industries. We urge employers throughout the city to support Career Technical Education.
Companies that do that will help ensure that New York remains the world’s greatest city.
By Aubrey T. Braz, Con Edison vice president, Substation Operations.