Energy is something most of us take for granted – we style our hair, surf the internet, heat and cool our houses, and power up our tools. With energy, the sky’s the limit and we didn’t understand the power of that statement until just recently, at the Energy Conference.
Our first order of business was to learn the basics of energy: what it is, where it comes from, and how closely it is tied to the environment. It is incredible to know that energy is a natural thing that needs to be harnessed in order for us to have electricity.
As a crash course, AC/DC isn’t just a band. It actually refers to two different methods of generating electricity. Edison = DC and Tesla = AC. Using their combined ideas on electricity, power efficiency won out and we are now able to send power (which is equal to current times voltage). In case you’d like a ditty to help you remember the equation for power, just think, “Power in the IV” (i=current if you’re wondering). You’re welcome.
Now that we were educated to the basics of energy, the Freedom Mine Company spoke about the importance of education, even if all you want to do is weld. Taking the time to get an education will garner you higher wages and increase your personal marketability.
The story of coal mining is told beautifully in the Freedom Mine Company’s video called “the Coteau Story.” They share the process of coal mining from one of the largest coal mines in the United States. From the acquisition of land and mining rights, through the mining process and all the way until the reclamation process, the company strives to return the land to the same or better condition as before it was mined. Throughout this process, we learned that it is so important to get as much schooling as is available and to not waste time because there is great mobility of workforce when entering energy fields. In the time we spent with them, we were reminded that electricity is all around the globe – you can work in North Dakota or Dubai and your skills will still be marketable. Their career advice? If you don’t know, pick a trade – then you’ll always have work and can work your way through anything else you decide to do.
So what is it like to work in the energy industry? The majority of entry level jobs start as apprenticeships and you work your way up to journeyman and then increase your options from there. Ecologists, geologists, engineers, and nurses are all on staff in the industry. Even ocean outposts are staffed with medical personnel and building the increasingly popular off-grid solar panels requires lots of labor. In the energy industry, you are almost guaranteed to have jobs available forever. Whether working as welders, electricians, mechanics, accountants, human resources, or advertising directors – you name it, the energy field needs it. Everyone needs electricity.
Our learning did not stop there! We were able to learn about lineman equipment, tools, and processes for putting up power poles and running wire. Then everyone got a chance to run the backhoe and welding simulators. Nyegai, a junior, got a 94% on her welding test, and all of us loved the hands-on learning!
As our time started to run out, we rushed through the trade show and saw so many cool products! Turbines, vehicles, pumps, drones, and a mock-up crane with blocks (video – Dropbox) were displayed for us to stare at!
Some of our students’ highlights were:
- “free stuff” – Leticia
- “the hydraulic pump that requires very little energy yet is very strong” – Richard
- “the virtual reality simulator for an oil field – wish we could’ve stayed there longer!” – Robbie
- “learning about diesel mechanics and how it is so much different than people think it is” – Jaelyn
- “seeing Trevor in a suit” – Leticia
- “learning about the lineman work because the guy was nice and how they work together to get the job done and trying out the excavator simulator” – Trevor
- “going thru the exhibits and seeing the motorcycle… learning how pipes work… seeing how they use a boiler cleaning system” – Jasmine
It was amazing to see how many unique jobs are available in the energy industry and anyone who enjoys working with their hands in any way, shape, or form will always have something to do!