NIPSCO and Ivy Tech through their combined efforts have made steady progress towards the creation of their Energy generator, a fully featured training device designed to teach a new generation of energy employees.
Thanks to a $60,000 grant through NIPSCO, the generator's construction has been completed with help from other members of energy distribution including EN Engineering and G&W Electric.
"This provides a real-world demonstration of what goes on with full sized equipment and full sized power lines, it's an incredibly valuable training tool for our students here," says Ivy Tech Energy Technology Assistant Professor Michael Jones.
The energy generator contains a multitude of functions and equipment to simulate an electrical distribution system. Going beyond the standard class offerings such as textbooks and computer simulations, students are given the opportunity to have hands-on experience to learn and practice techniques on realistic and simulated electrical distribution systems.
For both NIPSCO and Ivy Tech, creating a facility for future energy workers to learn is part of a paramount effort to move forward and ultimately give better service to their community and provide more opportunities for their employees.
"NIPSCO developed this energy technology program to develop our energy tech workforce with anything from electric lines to powerplant technicians to natural gas," says Ivy Tech President Aco Sikoski.
Sikoski and Jones recognized the positive effect that set ups like the one provided by NIPSCO present to students. While previous training would be lead through instruction and lectures, students having the opportunity to practice on simulated electrical apparatuses allows them the closest they can get to real-world experiences.
"The students get to understand which things are a link in the real world. This is the type of equipment they will be working on. They can feel it, see it and manipulate it, making a huge difference that lets students be ready to graduate right out of the gate," says Jones.
For both the instructors and students, they welcomed the opportunity to have Ivy Tech as a place for training for future electrical employees and the fact that Ivy Tech was willing to lead with this form of forward-thinking progress.
"The fact that Ivy Tech opened up the door and are willing to partner with NIPSCO and work with us is thrilling," says Sikoski. "It's now a reality, being able to develop this kind of lab so students can have actual hands-on activity. It makes a huge difference. They're happy, we're happy. It's these kinds of partnerships that make this so great."
"I think it's a great addition to the program," says energy student Ron Grover. "Some people have a different learning curve. This gives you a real world look and serves better for hands on experience. I enjoy hands on experiences. When you work in groups, it gives you an even greater sense of how this job will operate in the real world."
After the success of the energy generator, NIPSCO and Ivy Tech plan on more future projects and collaborations to help enhance student's learning experiences.
"NIPSCO is very involved with the advisory committee and we're looking to expand to natural gas to allow students more hands-on activities very similar to this one," says Jones.
"This is a great partnership with industry as well as career centers in Porter and La Porte County," says Sikoski. "Students can learn the fundamentals, obtain credits and really, this presents an exciting opportunity for our high school students for developing what they want to do and getting them started right away."