One industry program has distributed 733 scholarships to 466 students in four years, all in an effort to protect the future of the power industry. The IEEE Power and Energy Society began this Scholarship Plus Initiative as a result of a Collaborative and April 2009 report on preparing for future electric energy systems. The report defined objectives and recommendations to develop the necessary number of power engineers, anticipating that the workload would be increasing and nearly half of those in positions are likely to leave the workforce in the next five years.
The report recommended that scholarship and internship opportunities be created to double the pipeline of engineers that are graduating in the United States with power backgrounds. Afterward, a philanthropic market study was conducted and the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative was created.
The Initiative provides multi-year scholarships and career experience opportunities to qualifying undergraduate students in the United States and Canada. As long as the scholar continues to meet renewal standards, they can receive up to three years of funding—US$2,000 for each of the first two years and US$3,000 in the third and final year— interspersed with up to two much-valued career experiences.
“The PES Mission is to be the leading provider of scientific and engineering information on electric power and energy for the betterment of society. PES leadership realized that action must be taken to strengthen the future power engineering workforce,” said Daniel C. Toland, IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Program Director. “This initiative is important to the power industry since an aging workforce is still a main concern of utility executives in the United States. Recent data from Center for Energy Workforce Development indicates that almost 55% of the workforce may need to be replaced in the next 10 years.”
The program’s students have been hired by more than 160 organizations for an internship or full-time position.
“The program is having a positive impact to the students who have received the scholarship and to the organizations that have supported the program,” Toland said.
Several success stories have come out of the program, and PES is happy to share them. David from Washington University in St. Louis recently reported “Before I was named a PES Scholar, I had an interest in the power and energy field, but I didn't have a lot of certainty. Being named a PES Scholar has solidified my decision to continue in the field, most likely toward graduate studies and then industry work. The scholarship funds have allowed me to focus on coursework and begin a research project related to power and energy. I would not be as focused as I am in the power and energy field without the PES Scholars program.”
Thomas from the University of Iowa noted the funding from the scholarship enabled him to work fewer hours during the school year and focus more on his studies. He had an internship last summer within the Power Industry and has already accepted a full time job from the same company as a system engineer upon graduation this May.