ENERGIZED STUDENTS IMPRESS COMMUNITY, CORPORATE LEADERS

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Young visitors on tour of a Con Ed steam plant.
Young visitors on tour of a Con Ed steam plant.

How many young people have seen the inside of a battleship, toured a utilities plant, met a bridge builder, developed a high-scale project, conferred with top-tier leaders in the energy field   –  all within the span of 6 weeks?

Thanks to a wonderful experiential program developed by the American Association of Blacks in Energy, New York Metro Chapter (AABE-NYMAC), facilitated and hosted by Polytechnic Institute of NYU and supported by National Grid and Consolidated Edison, fourteen of our brightest stars, ranging in age from 11-14, received that experience plus a jump-start on the future.

The Summer Energy Academy (SEA) for Children, hosted by NYU-POLY in Brooklyn, was designed to introduce our young people to the career possibilities that exist in the energy industry when they study science, engineering and technology.

The SEA commenced July 6 from 8:30am to 3:00pm and concluded with a graduation ceremony on August 14.  The daily curriculum, taught by college students, included discussions of basic electricity, energy conservation, green technology, elements of NYU-POLY’s YES and I2E programs.   Program highlights also included the development of energy-focused team projects, field trips and tours, and lectures by leaders in the energy field.

Earlier this year, AABE brought the idea of the SEA to NYU-POLY and that idea culminated in the successful graduation of fourteen students from AABE-NYMAC’s first energy- focused summer academy.

“This is a great accomplishment for the community, NYU/POLY, Con Edison, National Grid and AABE-NYMAC.” said William Suggs, President of AABE-NYMAC and Senior Specialist, Corporate Environmental Health & Safety Department, Con Ed.  “We all pulled together and implemented an educational program on this level with talented children to help them begin a future in a new dynamic field to consider, explore and hopefully embrace.”

“Some students have never been exposed to the science, technology, energy and math fields,” says Ms. Beverly Johnson, NYU-POLY’s Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Executive Director of YES Center.  “Many students are not turned on to STEM careers until the late high school years.  But this program starts with students in the early years.

“We viewed this program as an excellent opportunity to work with our long-standing partners,” says Renee McClure of National Grid, adding, “AABE, Con Ed and Polytech, in not only educating our future generation on the energy industry, but also laying the foundation for our future workforce – what a winning combination”.

“These 14 students have made history.  This is POLY’s – and Brooklyn’s first Summer Energy Academy,” revealed Suggs, adding, “And a special thanks to Beverly Johnson who helped to make this experience happen. POLY students and graduates served as mentors, facilitators and teaching assistants in the program, and were responsible for educating and directing SEA participants.  Those young students saw college students who looked like them getting prepared to work in these fields.”

Tanzee Silver, an NYU-POLY graduate and now construction manager for the Port Authority, advised the students (who were separated into three teams) on their special assignment projects.   She explained how they created a company, designed a 1600- square -foot home, and as part of the research component, designated a location for the home and presented a rationale for where they were building the home.  “Utilizing Google start-up software, the students created 3-D models for the project which normally takes 13 weeks; the Energy Academy students completed their assignments in five.”

The teams were Solar Arrows: Jalls Civil, Sarah Semple, Dom Gill, Tyree White and Diamond Small; Con Energy: Elijah Addison, Ibrahim Jihad, Joshua Franklin and Daweet McIntosh; and Energy Savers: Kayla Brown, Sabrina Johnson, Brianna Suggs, Alyssa Venable and Victoria Wilson.

NYU-POLY Mathematics graduate Jonathan D. Williams, a SEA program facilitator, told Our Time Press, the program was “mind-engaging.”    He said, “SEA students had fun learning about sustainability: urban greenhouses, increasing production, minimizing pollution and the effects of climate and weather change on the earth.”

Coran James of the NAACP noted that the event was a milestone.  She said to parents, caregivers and educators in the audience that “the struggle” is not over. “Fourteen representatives of the future are here today.  We want to multiply that by a million.”

To the students, she said, “You are standing on the shoulders of giants who are encouraging you to go forward.  And if you need a role model, take a look at our President.”

Ms. Lima A. Jones of Con Edison, and member of AABE-NYMAC’s Scholarship/Education Committee, was the source for the idea and creation of the SEA.  At the graduation, she praised the students for electing to spend their summer learning about the exciting career possibilities in the energy sector when they study science and technology.  She also congratulated Sarah, Dom and Joshua for using what they had already learned in the program to conserve energy at home and to firm up college selections (Sarah is determined to attend MIT).

Councilwoman Tish James, moved by the students’ presentation and ardor for science, said she also was “blown away by the level of talent and skills.”  Nereida Perez, VP, Inclusion and Diversity, National Grid, exclaimed, “You are outstanding!  I can’t wait to see where you will be in the next few years.  And remember, in the next few years, there will be major gaps to fill.  We will need you to fill these jobs.  I hope you pursue a career in the natural sciences, and participate in the energy sector.”

Ms. Phyllis White-Thorne, Manager, Public Affairs, Con Edison, who chairs AABE’s Scholarship/Education Committee, encouraged the SEA students to strive higher. “Modeling the courage, tenacity and perseverance of the AABE-NYMAC members, she said, they too can make their dreams come true.”

SEA mentors and facilitators were: Sarah Ahmed, Christopher Brathwaite, Maggie Castillo, Nadira Choudhury, Konstantino Dimopoulos, Kayami Facey, Philippe Laurent, Pedro Santos, Mr. Williams and Ms. Silver.

Members of the AABE-NYMAC and NYU-POLY team include: Albert Sanchez, Bill Suggs, Phyllis White-Thorne, Blondell Lighty, Lima Jones, Renee McClure, Dianne Fuller and Beverly Johnson.