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They've Got the Power

TVA created a summer enrichment program especially for young women in Chattanooga dedicated to learning about transmission. An educational, enjoyable experience was had by all.

JULY 1, 2016—Eight young women from GIRLS, Inc. and the Challenger STEM Learning Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., recently completed a TVA-sponsored STEM summer enrichment program focused on transmission engineering.

“The ultimate goal is to interest students in pursuing careers in the STEM fields,” says Janice Horn, supervisor of TVA’s CADNet School to Work program and coordinator of the enrichment program. “The program provided students with opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge learned in academic courses to a professional work environment.”

This year’s pilot program helped the students extend their classroom learning by interacting with TVA Transmission Power Supply professionals (mentors) to better understand how science and math are connected to everyday experiences.

The variety of informal STEM experiences included wiring design, constructing a new transmission tower, high-definition surveys and project management tasks. The girls also worked on resume writing, mock job interviews and professional workplace etiquette.

Here’s what participants had to say about the program:

  • “What I liked about this program that it was in a real business, run by engineers. I was treated like an adult and got to see what it was really like beyond the intense security (which was really cool, by the way). I got an idea of the possible careers I might enjoy. I made connections and experiences I will never forget.”
  • “TVA’s core values are safety, integrity, service, accountability and collaboration. There is one theme I found lacking from the core values. Passion. Everyone I met has been extremely passionate. By definition, passion means strong and barely controllable emotion. The way everyone talked about their work is a true testament to this. These experiences have inspired me to find a career that I am equally passionate about. The STEM Enrichment program has allowed me to delve further into different engineering fields.”
  • “Most of my life, people have told me that I should go into engineering when they hear that I’m a straight A student and love math and science. The thing is, I didn’t know what an engineer did until I came to this program. The STEM Summer Enrichment Program has opened doors to knowledge of engineering that I wouldn’t get anywhere but here.”
  • “The program opened my eyes to my future and made me consider it very seriously. In a way it narrowed down my options.”
  • “The hands-on activities furthered my understanding of science.”

This STEM program was as much a win for TVA as for the young women who participated in it, according to Barry Evans, manager of Transmission Contract Projects Support and a program mentor. “Knowing that these young ladies are potential employees helped motivate us to make this experience as meaningful as possible,” he says. “The work we do can be difficult to grasp, but the mentors came up with a lot of creative ideas and activities that allowed the students to learn in a practical and enjoyable manner. Given the success of this project, we hope future STEM educational opportunities are on the horizon.”

They've Got the Power