Stimulus Supports NMU Power Tech Program
Northern has received $673,000 in stimulus funding through the U.S. Department of Energy to enhance its electrical power technician workforce training program. Established in fall 2009, the associate degree program helps regional utilities address a shortage of electrical power technicians needed to fill critical positions in all areas of the electrical power generation, transmission and distribution system. NMU offers the degree in collaboration with the Midwest Skills Development Center and Upper Peninsula power companies.
“The grant will be split about equally between equipment and personnel funding,” said Mike Rudisill (Engineering Technology). “Students will have state-of-the-art equipment to train with—the same as they will see in the field upon graduation. The remaining $340,000 is primarily to fund an additional instructor for the program for three years to allow smaller lab sizes and more personal instruction.”
Rudisill said NMU is providing $60,000 in scholarships over three years to support the program. The goal is to grow to 40 graduates per year. A mock electrical substation scheduled to be built this summer adjacent to the Jacobetti Center will act as a laboratory.
According to a press release issued by Congressman Bart Stupak, Northern received funding under DOE’s initiative to develop and enhance workforce training programs for the electric power sector. In addition to developing new training programs, strategies and curricula related to the electric power sector and the smart grid, this initiative also supports the development of cross-disciplinary electric power system programs at colleges and universities.
Nearly $100 million in stimulus funding was awarded by DOE to a total of 54 smart grid training programs in 33 states to help prepare the next generation of workers in the utility and electrical manufacturing industries. Northern’s is the only such program in Michigan to receive a portion of the funding.