The slow economy isn’t slowing the need for engineers in the electricity industry. The California Independent System Operator Corp. (California ISO) is partnering with local schools in an effort to encourage students to pursue engineering careers. The California ISO recognized National Engineers Week by hosting its first Engineering Day at its Folsom campus on Feb. 20. The education event targeted engineering, math and science-oriented students at Folsom High School and Folsom Lake College. An estimated 70 + students were expected to attend the event, which featured tours of the power grid control center and the ISO’s smart grid lab. The idea was to get the students excited about opportunities in engineering.

California ISO Vice President of Market and Infrastructure Development Laura Manz said engineers will help power the country’s energy transformation, "Engineers are a cornerstone to achieving important environmental goals that integrate renewable power and smart grid technologies. This is an exciting time to be an engineer and the ISO is a place where you can make a difference by helping solve challenging technical issues and communicate complex information to policy makers as they shape our cleaner, greener world."

Engineers make up about a fifth of the current workforce at the ISO and as they approach retirement age, the California ISO knows it is prudent to regularly recruit engineers in order to fill positions ranging from electrical, power system, transmission planning engineers to computer engineers. The current shortage of engineers is tied to fewer students enrolled in math, science and engineering programs. Folsom Lake College is trying to boost interest in these fields of study.

"There is a need for collaboration between colleges and universities, the business and government to develop our next generation of science, math and engineering professionals. In our current economic position, the timing couldn’t be better," said Gary Hartley, dean of instruction and technology at Folsom Lake College.