LINCOLN — On July 16-17, 2019, nearly 20 middle and high school science teachers from Lincoln Public Schools joined Lincoln Electric System for the first-ever emPowering Energy Educators workshop. The workshop was a pilot, designed to provide teachers with the tools to excite and inspire students about energy generation and supply them with real-world industry examples and data. It also sought to equip those in attendance with an understanding of career paths in the industry to help guide more students looking to pursue careers in energy.
"As the industry continues to advance and we look to find more diverse, efficient ways to generate the electricity that powers our communities, careers in energy will only become more important,” said recruiting and outreach specialist for LES, Kelley McKay. “Educators need to be able to help guide today’s students toward the right early career paths, like job shadows, post-secondary education opportunities and internships, to ensure they’re ready for tomorrow’s jobs.”
Day one of the two-day workshop focused on exploring some of our community’s power supply facilities with tours of LES’ wind turbines, as well as, the Terry Bundy Generation Station. The day concluded with an interactive activity related to how LES meets the energy demands of the area, using both nonrenewable and renewable energy.
Curriculum served as the major topic of day two, where the teachers collaborated to turn what they learned into lessons they could bring back to the classroom. The day also included an activity demonstration on designing, building and testing wind turbines with students, as well as a careers in energy panel.
This workshop is just the latest in LES’ efforts to educate and inform the community by working with partners in education. Earlier this summer, LES hired Dan Nickel, another local educator, to work alongside LES employees while school is out of session. He is learning valuable lessons that he will be able to bring back to the classroom in the fall.
“Every business is different but being able to get a real-world snippet of everyday life is really invaluable,” said Nickel, an IT networking instructor at The Career Academy, a partnership between LPS and Southeast Community College. Nickel has been in education for nine years and will work with LES throughout the summer break. His enthusiasm for learning is what drew him to the position. “It’s very important for educators to keep up on current technology and the jobs within. It’s always changing, and I think that has been one of the attractions. Distribution and generation of power is a very unique business,” he said. “To me, it’s a new frontier!”
As part of its focus to keep an eye toward the future, LES will continue to look for new ways to collaborate with educational institutions in our community to help prepare the next generation of energy specialists, engineers and technicians. “It’s a great idea,” said Nickel. “It shows students and educators that LES is serious about creating a better educational experience for them.”