Co-Ops at Pioneer Power

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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. 

We are extremely excited about our co-op program which we established in early 2020. Our focus has been on providing young, local talent with the opportunity to participate in various projects and tasks in order to expand their skill base by applying academic and theoretical knowledge to real world projects and problems. Not only is it an optimal first experience for the students - no matter where they decide to work after graduation - but they bring fresh insight and energy to our company as well. It’s very important that the students get a well-rounded perspective and real-world education during their time with us.

Shreedhar Shah, CEO PPG

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.

My first rotation has definitely exceeded my expectations. Although the circumstances leading up to my rotation were complex and unpredictable, I feel as though everyone in the company really welcomed me and eased my transition. Additionally, the training I received, although mostly virtual, was thoughtfully done. I am happy with the level of exposure that I have gained during my first rotation.”

Emily Richards

PPG Co-Op & Electrical Engineering Major at Swanson School of Engineering (University of Pittsburgh)

It’s been a great learning experience,” Leatherman said. “I feel like I’m a valued member of the team. I really appreciate being a part of a smaller team as it makes me feel involved in what the team is working on and not just an intern working separately on other tasks. My experience this rotation has definitely increased my interest in power systems engineering, and I’m excited to start taking those classes this fall and next year.

Carter Leatherman

PPG Co-Op & Electrical Engineering Major at Swanson School of Engineering (University of Pittsburgh)

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.

Co-op Students Participating in an Electrical Engineering Training Session

At Pioneer Power, we hope always to work to improve our co-ops' experience for each rotation and each member. We are open to receiving feedback from the co-ops and work to provide them with more challenging tasks to help them develop technically and professionally. We are looking for hardworking, talented individuals who want to make a difference. We have specifically designed a series of experiences that provides the students with the exposure they need to develop a strong skill set.The entire team at the Swanson School of Engineering have been tremendous to work with as they have helped guide both us and the students during the process. They are an invaluable source of information and assistance, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

Shreedhar Shah, CEO PPG

Know of a student looking for an awesome placement? Pass on the word. We are always looking for our next winning co-op student. 

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