Through Future Engineers of America (FEA), Southern Company and Alabama Power Company employees are working as mentors and role models to encourage high school students to pursue a career in the field of engineering.
“It’s rewarding to watch students interact with industry professionals and begin to understand the business at such a young age,” said Ashley Barnes, Southern Company Transmission Line Design & Maintenance Support Engineer and 2017-2018 National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)-Birmingham Professionals Chapter President.
FEA meetings are held on the second Sunday of every month from September through May at Alabama Power Company Corporate Headquarters and other various locations around town. The program allows high school students in the greater Birmingham area to be exposed to various types and aspects of the engineering profession through monthly interactive sessions. Each meeting incorporates networking activities and introduces a new soft skill topic to start.
Next, students get a glimpse into the engineering world from a guest speaker – always a different industry professional. Many times, the speakers are Southern Company employees who strive to foster relationships with future engineering professionals. At each meeting following the speaker sessions, students participate in a hands-on activity related to the engineering topic of the day. Program participants can attend three to five fully funded college trips sponsored by NSBE-Birmingham, and graduating seniors are eligible for annual scholarships given by the organization.
FEA started over 20 years ago and continues to make lasting impacts on students and the engineering industry. It had record attendance at its first meeting last year with 60 students ¾ 80 percent of whom came back for future meetings.
At the NSBE’s 43rd Annual Convention in Kansas City, Mo., NSBE-Birmingham Professionals chapter received the Regional Pre-College Initiative Program of the Year for FEA. This year marks the second in a row that NSBE recognized and honored FEA’s efforts and successes.
“The success of FEA would not be possible without the support of NSBE-Birmingham’s Southern Company and Alabama Power employee network,” said Ashley. “And last year would not have been as monumental without the support from our co-chair and Southern Company Transmission Line Design & Maintenance Support Engineer, Jakkera Ellison. We look forward to seeing where our students go in the future. Whether it be a career in engineering or pursing another passion, we hope they find their way with the help of FEA.”
FEA has already kicked off their 2017-2018 year, and they topped attendance from last year with 70 students! The 2017-2018 co-chairs for FEA are Ashley Barnes & Arthur Fisher, both Southern Company Transmission Design & Maintenance Support employees.