NSF funds project at ISU ESTEC to increase number of women in energy systems technical programs
November 17, 2015
POCATELLO —T he Energy Systems Technology and Education Center (ESTEC) has been awarded an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant award from the National Science Foundation. The award will support a project entitled, “Providing Opportunities for Women in Energy Related (POWER) Careers.”
The three-year award is for $796, 939. The project officially began Sep. 15. Participants will include women of any age, but the project has a special focus on women age 25 and over.
“ESTEC was established with the help of an NSF ATE grant in 2007,” said Lawrence Beaty, ESTEC executive director. “Our two-year programs are academically rigorous, laboratory intensive and produce well-qualified technicians. We are excited that the NSF is partnering with us to attract more women to energy programs that lead to careers as professional technicians in a field where the need for new graduates is great and increasing.”
POWER Careers will help increase enrollment and completion of women in degree programs that lead to energy industry careers. Entry-level energy technician jobs for ESTEC grads offer initial annual salaries of $55,000- $70,000, excellent benefits and a career path with promise and opportunity.
“Despite a lot of effort, education and industry have not been very successful in obtaining equitable participation of females in historically male-dominated technical fields,” Beaty said. “Women often select educational pathways that lead to gender traditional jobs that do not provide living wages. Our pilot project is designed to evoke transformational change in the way that women are recruited to and retained in energy systems programs.
“To do this, we will engage our successful female (and male) graduates who are now working in industry, enjoying their careers, buying homes and supporting their families. Many of these graduates will serve as role models and mentors for other women who desire these same outcomes. As one of our graduates said to us when we were preparing the proposal, ‘women need to see other women succeeding in non-traditional career fields.’”
The POWER Careers project team believes that the project will have a lasting impact on the way women view energy careers. Successful strategies employed by POWER careers will be replicable by other technical and community colleges throughout Idaho and the United States that struggle to recruit more women to STEM-related technical education programs.
This is the second National Science Foundation grant awarded to ESTEC in 2015. In July, ESTEC received a five-year S-STEM award to fund the Energy Systems Scholars scholarship program. The $612,375 award provides scholarships up to the full cost of in-state tuition for young male and female students enrolling in ESTEC.
For more information about POWER Careers or the Energy Systems Scholars program at the College of Technology, call ESTEC at 282-3085.