At Pioneer Power Group, we are always looking to innovate, both within our industry as well as with human capital and the next generation of STEM leaders. This is especially evident in our approach to the Co-Op Program with the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Investing in the Future of Our Industry
The Department of Education has placed a huge emphasis on directing students to STEM careers, to ensure that our future leaders can effectively meet the demands of a complex and rapidly evolving workplace. Building skills, knowledge and literacy in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (collectively referred to as STEM) is essential to a building a successful future workforce. PPG’s co-op program aims to tackle that goal one student at a time.
Our two most recent co-op students were both brought on during the Covid-19 pandemic. These co-op programs were specifically tailored to address the pandemic circumstances, while ensuring that students obtained a substantive and hands-on experience every single day. The electrical engineering students provided significant contributions to the organization and raised the bar for future co-op participants.
The Co-Op Footprint at Pioneer Power
PPG co-ops and staff alike get the chance to make a difference every day; we embrace a culture of openness and collaboration, where people lead with ideas, not job titles.
Our Co-Op program balances classroom theory with two rotations of practical, hands-on experience. Students alternate academic study with full-time employment, thereby gaining practical experience in their field of study. The co-op framework established at PPG allows students to grow their skill set as they familiarize themselves with the business and technical aspects of the industry and specific job at hand.
During the first tour students learn the basics of our business, how to read electrical diagrams and use SKM software, and identify pertinent information for projects & proposal pricing. The second tour includes full responsibility for electrical modeling. Students work directly with engineers to deliver short circuit, coordination, and arc flash studies to our clients. Co-ops support the PPG team by assisting in a wide variety of duties from preparing data request forms for all electrical systems, modeling these systems in SKM Power Tools to entering electrical data in SKM. Our recent co-ops were also given the opportunity to jump onto projects within the company to help streamline processes and procedures, thereby reducing the time burden the company spends on those tasks.
Starting her first rotation at PPG in May 2020, Emily Richards focused not only on completing several projects while working closely with the team, but also—and more impressively—she dove headfirst into developing a macro that had a lasting impact on the way we do business. Richards indicated that her positive experience in the rotation was a testimony to the team-centered thinking and agility at PPG. The program’s accommodations and flexible provisions made the experience rewarding despite the challenges faced during the pandemic. She highlighted that working directly with the team was her favorite part of the rotation.
Carter Leatherman will complete his first rotation this month. So far in his time at PPG, Leatherman has contributed significantly, continuing the improvement and development of projects and being a supportive team member. Still relatively new with the co-op program, Leatherman has also had a positive learning experience during his first rotation.
A Partnership Program Benefitting All
After working through the launch of this program and navigating the complicated waters of the pandemic, both the Pioneer Power Group and the co-ops have reaped the benefits. The co-op has fostered thriving relationships where the students are immersed in hands-on experiences which help develop their professional, technical and soft skills, while being immersed in a fast-paced professional environment. PPG in turn, has benefited from new insights, energy and diverse approaches to project tasks.