Published Spring 2014
By SMART Energy, Pacific Northwest Center for Excellence for Clean Energy
Community and technical college (CTC) energy programs offer veterans excellent pathways to high-wage, high-skills careers. The programs, which can be found at 28 colleges around the state, offer energy degrees and networking connections within industry that along with military experience, gives veterans a jump-start into civilian careers. Meet three successful veterans who have made the energy career transition:
Amanda Bowman, Instrumentation & Controls Intern, Energy Northwest, Richland, WA
Military: Quartermaster & Chemical Equipment Repairer, U.S. Army National Guard
Program: Nuclear Technology Instrumentation & Controls, Columbia Basin College.
“The military taught me the basics of electrical systems and how to troubleshoot them. I also learned leadership skills, how to set and attain personal goals, and how to maintain a military bearing,” Amanda said.
The Nuclear Technology program at Columbia Basin College gave Amanda the technical knowledge and foundation of the nuclear industry and helped her prepare for a career in this field.
“We’ve been able to build relationships with other students and program staff. I believe these relationships will continue and will give us a valuable network in our careers,” she said.
Nick Kissinger, Hydropower Operator, Seattle City Light
Military: Nuclear Power Plant Operator, U.S. Navy
Program: Energy Technology, Centralia College
“I have always been kind of a science buff which has made me gravitate toward anything technical. I joined the Navy for the challenge and to satisfy my curiosity toward nuclear power plant operations. This industry offers a limitless amount of information and technical knowledge.”
Nick spent two years learning how to be a nuclear power plant operator and completed a journeyman electrical apprentice ship while in the Navy.
“I obtained my first and only AAS degree at Centralia College. There, I learned about different power plant operations so that I could be more valuable to energy employers.”
The energy program also taught Nick important electrical industry safety procedures and how to work with the EPA, OSHA and WISHA (Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act).
Nick chose CC because of who was hiring their graduates. “I learned about Seattle City Light when recruiters visited the energy technology class and applied right away.”
Every CTC energy program is required to have an advisory board and many of them connect with students.
Chester Curtis, project engineer, McKinstry
Military: Combat Engineer, U.S. Army
Program: Energy Management, Edmonds Community College
Chester left the U.S. Army with a traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and hearing loss in both ears. He knew he needed a college education as his Army training wasn’t the career path to a job – he defused/destroyed explosives.
He found Edmonds CC, visited the Veterans Resource Center on campus, and promptly got elected to Veterans Club president. He supported veterans both on campus and off, including the Fisher House, where families live while their service person is recovering from injuries. He was also appointed to the National Student Veterans Association Board.
Chester secured the first 2-year college graduate internship at McKinstry, a full-service building) design, build, operate and maintain firm. He worked as an energy project coordinator trainee for six months before being promoted to project engineer of the Fire Sprinkler Division.
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