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HCC Student Benefits From Progress Energy’s Power Careers Program

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Last updated:Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 08:13 AM Posted:Sunday, Oct 31, 2004 at 07:00 PM





PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 11-03-04



Haywood Community College industrial systems technology student, Brandon Jenkins, has found a way to make the most of his college education. He is participating in Progress Energy’s Power Careers program. The scholarship program is designed to provide students an introduction to the business of power plant operations and support the completion of targeted two-year associate degrees to ultimately provide a career opportunity with Progress Energy.

Jenkins works part-time at the Lake Julian Plant in Asheville earning $10 an hour while attending classes at HCC. He receives a $500 scholarship each semester from Progress Energy.

"The program helps me pay for college while I get great hands-on experience," Jenkins explained. "I also get my foot in the door, giving me leverage for getting a job at Progress Energy when I graduate."

The Power Careers Program works with community colleges to enhance existing programs to prepare students for careers in power plant operations. Students must be nominated by a member of the high school or community college faculty and have a 3.2 grade point average. Students must enroll in the electrical-electronics technology program or the industrial systems technology program. After completing the first year of study, students are eligible for temporary full-time summer employment at a designated power plant.

Jenkins works 20 hours a week while he is taking classes and 40 hours a week during the summer.

"This is a good opportunity for students," HCC applied technology instructor, Bobby Swanger, said. "Power generation does not fluctuate with the economy which gives this job security."

Upon graduation, job offers at Progress Energy are based on academic performance, job evaluations, overall experience, and available vacancies. Starting salary is between $32,000 to $35,000 annually. The program is designed to provide a more versatile, diverse, better-trained, and immediately productive entry-level employee.

According to Lee McCollum, Coordinator for Power Careers Program at Progress Energy, research shows an aging workforce industry-wide with a significant number of jobs to be filled over the next 10 years at Progress Energy. The Human Resource Institute reports that 43 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force is eligible to retire in the next decade.

"We developed this program to meet the needs of an aging workforce where many employees are nearing retirement," McCollum said. "There are 21 students now in the program throughout North and South Carolina. The opportunity is out there and the future is bright."

Students in HCC’s industrial systems technology program take classes in many areas such as electrical, building construction, machining, hydraulics, pneumatics, blueprint reading, welding, and maintenance and procedures. "The industrial systems technology program offers a diversified curriculum, making students well-rounded for the job," Swanger said.

Students interested in the Power Careers Program should contact their high school guidance counselor or a counselor at HCC.


(Cutline:) Brandon Jenkins, HCC industrial systems technology student, is benefiting from the Progress Energy Power Careers Program. Brandon received a scholarship from Progress Energy, as well as a part-time job while attending classes at HCC.