HUGHESVILLE, Md. – Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) recently hosted more than a dozen high-school students from the area to help inspire the next generation of women engineers.
Each year the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) holds the Engineer Like a Girl camp to expose high-schoolers to the opportunities that exist for women who pursue careers in engineering fields. The summer program aims to empower girls to develop their talents and become the world’s problem solvers. Students participate in fun activities that represent engineering, such as building towers out of marshmallows or building mobile phone detectors, and they visit local employers and meet women engineers.
The program’s lead instructor, Pre-Engineering Coordinator Jehnell C. Linkins, said the goal of the week-long program is two-fold: first, teach young girls that no profession is gender-specific; and second, prove that engineering can be really fun.
Engineer Like a Girl participants spent a day at SMECO to learn about the engineering principles behind electric utility systems. They watched a hot line demonstration that shows what can happen when objects come into contact with live power lines. The students visited the command center for restoring power outages after major storms. From SMECO’s command center, the students observed activities in the operations center that controls the co-op’s electric transmission and distribution system.
The visitors also learned about the Junior Distribution System Operator career path that SMECO offers to current employees. Traditionally, the job of distribution system operator was open only to employees who had training in utility line work. The new career path gives the Operations Center a larger and more diverse pool of qualified applicants from other departments at SMECO.
“Delivering power is a highly technical business. Like any electric utility, SMECO depends on skilled engineers and other technically trained employees to operate our electric system,” said Sonja Cox, president and chief executive officer. “Electrical engineers are in demand across the nation. SMECO is doing its part to encourage younger people to enter the profession, so we can continue our mission to provide reliable power to Southern Maryland.”
SMECO – The Cooperative Difference –
SMECO was incorporated in 1937 and is one of the 15 largest electric cooperatives in the United States with more than 170,000 member accounts in Charles County, St. Mary’s County, southern Prince George’s County, and most of Calvert County.
Electric cooperatives are shaped by the communities they serve, because co-ops are owned by their customers. Co-op members elect the men and women who serve on the Board of Directors. Members share the responsibility of ownership by financing the cooperative’s operations, but they also share its rewards.
At the end of each year, SMECO’s margins (profits) are allocated to members’ capital credit accounts. SMECO uses its profits to invest in new construction, system improvements, and facility upgrades. The Board of Directors regularly evaluates the financial condition of the co-op and determines when members will receive a refund. Since 1937, SMECO has refunded more than $116 million.
As a cooperative, SMECO will always put its members first and be responsive, reliable, and resourceful—the power you can count on.
The SMECO 24/7 mobile app is available at www.smeco.coop/247.