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Students can apply for free practicum in power engineering

By Alyssa Patrick, WSU College of Engineering and Architecture

olsen-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Cancun may be a warm spring break location, but Washington offers opportunities for power engineering students that will heat up their job prospects.

“A few years ago, I was talking to a CEO at an engineering company who said new graduates often don’t know enough about industrial controls, so I said, ‘why don’t you teach them?’” said Bob Olsen, assistant dean of undergraduates in the College of Engineering and Architecture at Washington State University. Olsen started a spring break engineering industry practicum program.

Bob Olsen, right, talks to students in a new power engineering lab at WSU.

After that conversation, Electroimpact in Everett set up a week-long practicum to give students an inside look at how the company works. Over the past two years around a dozen students spent spring break learning practical skills from industry professionals while earning one college credit.

Last year, the program was expanded to the power industry. Avista and Cowlitz PUD offered a practicum for power engineering students, and Olsen hopes the program continues to grow.

“Development of future engineers for the utility industry is a growing concern as the existing workforce ages,” said Rick Syring, director of operational technology engineering at Cowlitz PUD. “We welcome the opportunity to invest in this training of future utility engineers.”

Each day students learn about a different aspect of the industry from the employees who work in that area. Employees become instructors for the day and teach students about processes as they are happening.

The practicum is free to students, and housing can be provided.

Applications for the spring break practicum, March 17-21, are due Feb. 1. Applicants must be certified in power engineering. Please submit a resume and statement of interest to Jody Opheim, EME 21 or

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