07/09/10 — Alternative energy camp gets support from power company

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Alternative energy camp gets support from power company

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 9, 2010 1:46 PM

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Christie Hall of Progress Energy, right, smiles while talking to Camp Kill-A-Watt faculty member Ernie White, faculty member Todd King, camp director Angela Wall and WCC vice president Peggy Teague.

Officials say an alternative energy camp started at Wayne Community College last summer has much potential -- not only for enticing youths to consider a career path, but to be replicated in other locations.

Progress Energy Foundation believed in it so much, officials provided a $5,000 grant to support the camp this year, allowing it to expand to a second week.

Camp Kill-A-Watt will be held July 12-15 for middle school students and July 19-22 for high schoolers. Led by instructors from the college's applied technology division, it encompasses such program areas as automotive, aviation, and engineering and manufacturing technologies.

Years ago, the focus was on clean water, clean air, said Dan Oliver, community relations manager for Progress Energy Carolinas, who made the check presentation Thursday. While those things remain important, alternative energy is equally so, as is creating an awareness among young people to explore career options in related fields.

"That's definitely our goal with Camp Kill-A-Watt, (that) by the time they get to high school, by the time they get to college, they will want to take these classes," said Angela Wall, WCC instructor who introduced the camp in 2009.

Christie Hill, manager of talent acquisition programs for Progress Energy, said she became aware of how successful the camp was last year.

"A lot of young folks are interested in those glamorous careers -- working for ESPN, sitting behind a desk and delivering the news. ... (Ours) is an industry that has lots of options -- if you're interested in sustainability, go this way; if you're interested in nuclear, you can go this way."

Ms. Wall said one of the aims for the abbreviated summer camp is to make students aware of career options.

The hands-on activities and experiments are not only educational but engaging, she said. By expanding the camp into two sections this year and dividing up the age groups, students will have even greater opportunity to focus on projects in solar, wind, fuel cell and biomass technologies.

In addition to the instructional component, camp participants this year will also create a solar oven and learn about wind power and propeller design. Progress Energy has also again secured an electric car and will provide several engineers to speak to students about their jobs and future prospects in the field.

Camp Kill-A-Watt is a valuable product, now and for the future, Oliver said, and companies like Progress Energy would be wise to evaluate the idea and consider how it might be duplicated.

There is already an interest outside Wayne County, Ms. Wall said.

She said she recently received an e-mail from a mother in Colorado who discovered information about Camp Kill-A-Watt online.

"She was interested in sending her son," Ms. Wall said. "I think it was either four or five camps in the whole country that were even similar to this."

Applications are still being accepted for the upcoming camp. Ms. Wall said she has a capacity for 25 in each group. As of Thursday, she had 23 middle schoolers signed up and 16 in the high school program.

For more information, call 735-5151 or e-mail awall@waynecc.edu.