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A dozen NSF power engineering scholarships awarded; more available

Release Date: October 15, 2013
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Assistant Professor Kun Hua (center) meets with S-STEM scholars (left to right) Taylor Webb, Erica Samko, William Flowers, Alula Kassa, Eric Onan, and James Donahue.

Scholarships have been awarded to seven students at Lawrence Technological University and five at Monroe County Community College (MCCC) under a program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address the need for more engineers for the power industry.

As a result, the full five-year NSF grant of $598,000 for the Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program has been approved based on the results during the first year under the leadership of Assistant Professor Kun Hua of LTU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Thanks to the NSF grant, Lawrence Tech is offering $10,000 scholarships for two years to community college graduates to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a power engineering concentration. Community college students working on their associate degree in this field also qualify. NSF is providing the scholarships in response to an impending national shortage of power engineers needed for the nation’s electricity production plants and distribution system.

Power engineers develop, maintain, and modernize “the Grid,” the vast network of transformers, generators, motors and electronics that supply electrical power.

“Electricity generation is one industry you can’t outsource, and there is a shortage of power engineers in this country that could become acute in the next few years as many engineers in this field retire,” said Professor Phil Olivier, chair of LTU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The job prospects of new power engineers are excellent.”

LTU’s S-STEM scholarship recipients gain additional knowledge about the power industry from outside speakers, field trips and participation in professional organizations. Internships and job placement are also part of the scholarship program.

“LTU is leveraging its network of local and regional partnerships to aid in the recruitment, retention, and job placement of the S-STEM scholars,” said Hua, the S-STEM advisor.

One of those partners is DTE Energy, which has a specific need to hire more nuclear engineers for its Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station near Monroe. DTE Energy worked with Monroe County Community College in developing the associate degree in nuclear engineering technology, and graduates of that program are eligible for the scholarship program to continue their studies at LTU.

The S-STEM scholars program was put together with help from Olivier and Associate Professor Lisa Anneberg of the Department of Electrical and Computer engineering; Dee King, interim director of financial aid; Lisa Kujawa, assistant provost for enrollment management; Admissions Director Jane Rohrback; and others.