By Allison Westlake
Birmingham and Gadsden-area ninth-grade students explored careers in engineering on March 23 at Alabama Power’s Linemen, Engineers and Apprentice Programs (LEAP) Career Day. Hosted at the 12th Street Crew Headquarters in downtown Birmingham, students heard speakers, participated in hands-on programs and saw firsthand some careers available to them.
LEAP is a mentor program that connects Alabama Power employees with students to give them information about engineering and trade skills. It combines efforts, knowledge and experience of employees throughout Power Delivery, Transmission and Distribution departments, as well as employees in those disciplines at Southern Company Services.
While the Career Day has existed for years, this was the second year for it to follow an interactive and engaging feedback format.
“Through LEAP, we participate in events both at the school and here at Alabama Power,” said Jason Pruett, an engineering supervisor for Alabama Power Power Delivery. “For this event, we bring students in and show them all of the career opportunities available to them here, from being a lineman to an engineer to all the other departments.”
Dozens of employees representing their departments helped students explore careers. Engineers showcased how the company uses technology, including drones. Representatives from Environmental Affairs shared how environmental positions make an impact, as well as how students can be involved in Renew Our Rivers. In addition to an electric vehicle onsite, the Safe-T-Zone presentation was one of the many ways employees interacted with students. “I want to be an engineer but I don’t know which type, but that’s why I am here today with the LEAP program,” said Stanley Hicks, a freshman at Ramsay High School.
“Engineers make a big impact in the community. I can be anything I want to be, even though I am a girl. I think it is a lot better to be here and see what my options are,” said Chloe Wenzell, a freshman at Oak Mountain High School.
After last year’s program, Pruett and other organizers of Career Day were encouraged by the positive feedback and excitement from career counselors and teachers.
“This is a hands-on interactive event. From all accounts, they really like it and are getting a lot out of it,” Pruett said.