Last Monday, 10th-grade students in the Academy of Engineering at G.W. Carver High School got a behind-the-scenes look at the intricate processes that are involved in the simple act of turning on a light. At Alabama Power’s E.C. Gaston Steam Plant, students saw first hand how electricity is generated through the processing of coal and steam.
As part of Ed’s Bridging the Gap program, Academy students visit sites of local business to learn more about the variety of careers related to their areas of interest. At Gaston, students heard from chemical and process engineers about the plant’s daily operations and also met operators in the control rooms who explained to students how they monitor the various functions, activities, and outputs in the plant.
The E.C. Gaston Plant is one of the largest in Alabama, generating more than 1.8million kilowatts of electricity per year. The plant is also the official site for the National Carbon Capture Center project, an international initiative launched in 2009 to “develop and test technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-based power plants.” The NCCC is managed at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF), a site visited be researchers from around the world.
Carver student Raven Miller noted that the best part of Bridging the Gap experiences are “being up close to the machinery and [experiencing] the environment of a real work place.” In additional to career exploration, Bridging the Gap also emphasizes the importance of setting academic goals and planning for college. During the career panel, Alabama Power employees in a wide variety of fields impressed upon students the importance of learning about multiple fields of engineering, noting that they often end up working together, and can utilize each other’s varying skills and knowledge.
Ed would like to extend special thanks to Alabama Power and specifically to Melissa Hyche and Jim Dorsten for orchestrating the Gaston Plant tour, and also to Brett Anderson and the many other engineers who took time out of their day to talk to students, design presentations, and demonstrate engineering processes in what was for students (and one Ed staffer) an extremely informative and memorable experience.
Click here to see more pictures from the event.
To learn more about Bridging the Gap, visit the program page or check out recent stories about the Woodlawn Academy of Business and Finance partnership with Regions Bank or Carver and JO’s Academies of Health Sciences partnership with UAB Hospital.