May 01, 2017

Sparking inspiration

Even though Abby Delserone grew up in a family of utility workers — her cousin, uncle and grandfather all worked in the power industry — an engineering career wasn’t always on her radar.

“I was originally applying to colleges as a psychology major,” she said. “I really didn’t have much exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers. I wish I would’ve had a broader sense of career opportunities in high school.”

That wish motivated Delserone, an engineer with PPL Electric, to join PPL Electric’s Exploring post at Allen High School in Allentown, Pa, shortly after being hired in 2016. The Exploring program, which is sponsored by Boy Scouts of America, strives to help teens discover career opportunities through activities and mentorships with professionals in technical fields. PPL launched its Allen post for the 2015-16 school year with 11 employee volunteers, who found the program so valuable and rewarding, they continued it for the 2016-17 school year.

“I enjoy being there with the students to show them how math and science apply in the real world,” Delserone said. “I was always good at science and math in school, but I didn’t really know what an engineer did. I also think it’s important to show female students what we do since there aren’t many females in engineering.”

PPL Electric employee volunteers visit the students once a month. At each session, they arrange for a PPL guest speaker to give the students an overview of a specific career, be it an electrical engineer, a system operator or a line worker. Then they lead the group in an interactive, hands-on activity that helps to bring an aspect of that particular career to life.

PPL Electric engineers show high school students how math and science apply outside the classroom.
PPL Electric engineers show high school students how math and science apply outside the classroom.

“STEM careers can open doors for young people,” said PPL Electric Engineer Nicole Lacouve, who is the leader of the Allen post. “The students we interact with are just starting to think about what they want to do as a career so this effort has a significant impact to enable them to pursue a career in the STEM fields. With the value that technical competency has in the job market, we believe that encouraging young people to pursue STEM careers will have a positive impact on the community.”

The program has been so well-received by the students and the school that the post will continue at Allen again for the 2017-18 school year. Lacouve is also in the process of launching an additional post at another Allentown school.

Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the experience. “I get the satisfaction of nurturing a group of students engaged in STEM and feeling like I’m having a positive impact on the community,” Lacouve said. “As a leader of a team of volunteers, I have the privilege of seeing how creative, engaged and giving PPL engineers can be.”

Read the 2016 Sustainability Report