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A Week at a Hydropower and STEM Career Academy

July 25, 2018

Male student in a hardhat standing in front of a dam

EWEB is a proud supporter of STEM opportunities in our community. This summer we helped send a local student to Chelan County, Washington for a week-long hydropower and STEM career academy. Ethan sent us a recap of his experience and it sounds like it was an amazing week. 


After an orientation at the Rocky Reach Dam, we built our own hydropower mini models to familiarize ourselves with how the generators worked. We gathered into groups of two, and two groups of three because there weren't enough materials for everyone. I enjoyed assembly, although it was difficult. We tested and improved our models, then had a competition to see whose could generate the most power.

After lunch, we split into two groups and toured the generation area, unique fish bypass system, and the structure of the dam. It was very interesting and one of my favorite parts of the week. 


We toured another older dam, The Lake Chelan Dam, and learned about the building, design, operation, and upkeep of both the dam and the fish habitat around it.

We returned to Rocky Reach Dam, the one the camp was based at, to design and build our own solar cars individually and race them. I experimented a lot with my car, to the point where it wouldn't run, and I couldn't race. However, I had a lot of fun anyway. 


We all drove down to a newly re-made area at Crescent Bar to learn about a GIS mapping system, then we tried it out in groups by recording information about the trees.

After lunch, we drove to the Microsoft data center. It was amazing. I absolutely loved the tour of the server room, and I was even able to replace parts of a server myself. The security was intense, and for the second part of the tour, we saw the cooling and backup systems that are also integral to a data center. I enjoyed the look into this aspect of technology and meeting professionals that are a part of it. 


Thursday started off with a tour and demonstration of the Rocky Reach Dam fish sampling and research center. It was very informative of another aspect of running a dam, fish care and monitoring to ensure minimal environmental impact.

After this, we met and talked with mechanical and electrical engineers to learn about different engineering jobs and associated career paths.

We then talked with a representative of Avista Line School to learn about the job of a lineman. We had lunch then traveled to another branch of the Public Utility District, fiber optics. We were taught about the physical infrastructure behind it, and the technological and online side of it. We also got to use and learn about the tools they use, and everyone also got to splice two pieces of fiber together. 


Friday started off with assembling our own drones, then flying them around our area. It was a lot of fun. Afterward, we met up with some professionals varying from fabricators to divers to engineers to supervisors to learn more about a possible career that we were interested in.

The week ended with a graduation ceremony where we reflected on the week and got a certificate and a hard hat.