An innovative partnership between North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and Athens Drive Magnet High School’s STEM Academy was recently nominated for the first-ever Cleantech Talent Initiative Award from the Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster. The goal of the “Powering the Future” partnership is to provide students in the STEM academy with valuable real-world encounters with electric cooperatives, the energy industry and STEM principles at work.
North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives established the ongoing partnership with the academy in fall 2018 as a long-term workforce development initiative to build student awareness of career opportunities in the energy industry and at electric co-ops. About 50 seniors from the academy visited the office of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives earlier this year to learn firsthand about technology concepts applied at electric co-ops including solar arrays, electric vehicle charging and microgrids. Employees of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have also visited classrooms to give an overview of electric cooperatives and their work to provide power to communities throughout the state.
The Cleantech Talent Initiative Award is one of eight inaugural Cleantech Innovation Awards given by the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster to recognize and honor the individuals and organizations driving cleantech innovation and deployment in the Triangle region. The award recognizes a program or initiative that supports or develops people entering the cleantech industry, including corporate apprenticeship programs, a community college certificate in clean technology, K-12 curriculum and other efforts.
“Our Powering the Future partnership provides a unique opportunity to connect with our future workforce early on and help educate them about energy and cleantech,” said Lauren Liles, human resource specialist for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, who also serves as a member of the STEM academy’s advisory board and RTCC’s Talent Action Committee. “By partnering with the Academy, we are preparing students for successful careers and making an investment in the future of our industry. We’re honored to receive this recognition and proud to continue supporting STEM education, clean tech and our local community.”