Pat Roane 2017-11-02 00:37:57
ELECTRICAL energy is vital to all engineering & technology industries. In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on sources and applications of renewable and inexhaustible energy. While these provide alternatives to our conventional, non-renewable fuel sources, most industry, manufacturing, and home heating and cooling relies on electricity. Regardless of the initial source of power, the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy is crucial to our future. High school seniors in the pre-engineering program at Bridging Communities recently took their first steps toward careers in the energy industry when they completed the Energy Industry Fundamentals (EIF) Certificate program. Bridging Communities Career & Technical Center and Governor’s STEM Academy is located in New Kent, Virginia. A regional program, Bridging Communities, serves Charles City, Middlesex, King & Queen, King William, and New Kent counties, as well as the town of West Point. Engineering & technology program students at Bridging Communities are enrolled through their junior and senior years in high school, completing dual-enrollment courses in partnership with Rappahannock Community College. The pre-engineering program operates as part of the Governor’s STEM Academy, with students completing the Virginia CTE Engineering Explorations curriculum as juniors and Engineering Studies as seniors. Start to Finish A bit of time is required before implementing the EIF curriculum in the classroom. The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) coordinates the approval of course providers, ensuring consistency in the delivery and assessment of the material. While the application is not burdensome, it ensures the necessary elements are in place to support student success. Although two months are requested for processing course provider applications, additional time is necessary to establish the optional, but highly recommended, online learning management system. With our first course scheduled to begin in late January 2017, Bridging Communities submitted a course provider application in mid-June 2016 and received approval to deliver the course in early August. Julie Strzempko, educational consultant at CEWD, coordinated the approval process and offered a webinar for new course providers in October 2016. CEWD also offers an online learning management portal tailored to the educational institution; the Bridging Communities system was operational by the end of November 2016. A second webinar, also hosted by CEWD, ensured those using the learning management portal understood its operation and capabilities. While the online learning management portal is not required to deliver the course, it provides a significant increase in flexibility for both instructors and students. Using their unique profiles, students can access their reading assignments and complete quizzes online. Feedback is immediately available, allowing students to move ahead with assignments. CEWD provides downloads for all reading materials, quizzes, tests, and study guides, as well as instructor guides that greatly assist in the preparation of lesson plans and materials. Although Bridging Communities provided each student with a full set of printed materials, most students used laptops and notebook computers to complete assignments. At Bridging Communities, the EIF course was introduced to seniors who were already scheduled to take a dual-enrollment course titled “Introduction to Alternative Energy.” With a clear focus on renewable and inexhaustible energy sources, the course includes an overview of current, conventional energy sources and power generation. Aligning the Energy Industry Fundamentals with the alternative energy course provides a more comprehensive view of all facets of the energy industry in the 21st century. A significant element of EIF course provider approval is the requirement to partner with a local electric utility. In our case, Dominion Energy was quick to offer assistance. During the time leading up to our first EIF course, three Dominion engineers visited our pre-engineering classroom, providing an overview of experienced many of the classroom concepts: coal-powered boilers and steam turbines, gas turbines, generators, and environmental protection systems. The Course Energy Industry Fundamentals is delivered in five modules: History and Organization of the Industry, Safety, Electric Power Generation, Electric Power Transmission, and Electric Power & Natural Gas Distribution. According to the CEWD, the course “covers such basics as emerging principles and concepts that impact the energy industry; compliance with safety and health procedures; how electric power and natural gas generation, transmission, and distribution work; a range of entry-level energy careers; and ‘hot topics’ in energy.” The course is essentially non-technical, and satisfies Tier 4 and Tier 5 industry technical competencies of the Energy Competency Model (Fig. 1). CEWD provides some PowerPoint presentations for incorporation into lesson plans, but the instructor should prepare and deliver their own lesson plans. Most helpful for our students were the glossaries, online reading modules and scenarios, and repeatable quizzes that enabled student mastery of the material. In addition, CEWD added variety to the mix, including interactive quizzes based on familiar game shows: “Jeopardy,” “Family Feud,” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Imbedded throughout the readings are “career profiles,” such as nuclear health physics technician and power plant operator, providing students with a better perspective on the education and training required of energy industry careers. For the instructor, each module and unit provides an overview of the topic, learner expectations, teaching strategies, and a pacing chart for lesson delivery that enables realistic lesson planning. These resources support tailoring the curriculum while maintaining consistent focus on the learning objectives. Numerous activities are available to encourage in-class discussion, while handouts and worksheets provide ample opportunity for seatwork and homework assignments. Furthermore, each unit provides a listing of online video and animations that provide the opportunity for a “virtual field trip” without leaving the classroom. The Student Perspective The EIF course is essentially nontechnical. Electrical concepts such as voltage, resistance, and current are presented, as well as basic thermodynamic properties. While previous knowledge of Ohm’s Law, Watt’s Law, thermodynamic laws, and types of energy would be helpful, it is not a requirement for successful completion of the course. Students performed best when they read the assigned material in advance, kept pace with the provided note-taking guides, and completed the online quizzes. The students also learned the value of the glossary; the terms used in the energy industry are likely to be unfamiliar. Of particular help was the use of highlighted text in both the printed and online text. In the printed text, the highlights reminded the student that the definition was available in the unit glossary. Using the online text, placing the mouse over the highlight brought the definition right onto the screen. The Result All Bridging Communities students completed the course and successfully passed the online certificate certification assessment. The Energy Industry Fundamentals certificate assessment is approved by the Virginia Department of Education for high school career and technical education industry certification. As detailed above, to be eligible to take the certification assessment, the school or institution must apply for “approved course provider status” and students must complete the EIF course. The energy industry is forging a plan to address workforce shortages in the years ahead; the Energy Industry Fundamentals course was developed to help address that challenge. Students with a desire to work in the energy industry would be well served by the course. Additionally, the EIF course provides a solid foundation for any young adult who desires an engineering or technical degree, regardless of the specific discipline or academic major. As the course also addresses the challenge of nonrenewable energy sources, students are well informed regarding renewable, inexhaustible, and emerging energy industry alternatives that also have demands for a trained workforce. The Energy Industry Fundamentals course, supported by the Center for Energy Workforce Development, is an excellent resource for high school seniors enrolled in CTE programs. For information on starting the program, visit the EIF “Fast Track” at www.cewd.org/curriculum/fast-tracked-eif.php. Pat Roane served 30 years as a naval officer, retiring at the rank of Captain. He holds a teaching certification in the Commonwealth of Virginia with an endorsement in Technology Education. He now teaches a dualenrollment pre-engineering program at Bridging Communities Career & Technical Center and Governor's STEM Academy in New Kent, VA.
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