These days, most teenagers have at least one thing in common — an unrelenting love for their cellphone. LG&E and KU employees recently relied on this fact when they taught Assumption High School (AHS) students how to build a solar-powered phone charger as part of the ACE Mentor program.
ACE is a national program designed to introduce high school students to the wide range of career opportunities open to young people in architecture, construction and engineering. The Louisville affiliate was founded in 2009.
Jay Robertson, Emerging Technologies program manager, led the most recent session at AHS. "I really enjoy seeing young people interested in engineering and science," he said. "Many of the students in the program will pursue STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — as a career path, but even if they don't, programs like ACE teach creativity, problem-solving and teamwork. Maybe most importantly, ACE fosters a sense of curiosity in the world around you. I can't think of anything better for a young person to experience."
Twice a month, LG&E and KU employees serve as mentors at AHS along with other local STEM professionals. Through ACE, employees share their knowledge and skills with young people while learning to effectively communicate and teach technical information to students in creative ways. Learning occurs for everyone.
Nick Jewell, senior research engineer, taught a solar power lesson during the session at AHS. "Any time that I can share my engineering knowledge or my career experiences with students through outreach programs such as ACE is a win in my book," he said. "I really wish that I had had the opportunity to experience some of these outreach programs when I was in school, because it would have solidified my choice to become an engineer."
When Jewell and Robertson — along with Aron Patrick, manager of Technology Research and Analysis, and Thembi Tillman, energy efficiency program manager — worked with AHS students on their solar-powered phone chargers, the excitement was apparent. The first time the red light came on and a student's cellphone began to charge, rumblings of "this is so cool" and "wow" were heard across the classroom. The science teacher assisting the class assured the employees that this was a young person's way of showing extreme elation!
LG&E and KU are proud to be a sponsor of the ACE Mentor program, with employees working with students throughout Louisville to serve as mentors and project leaders. Beth McFarland, vice president-Customer Services, has served on the board of directors for ACE since 2017. "Our partnership with ACE is a great fit for our company, and I'm proud to serve on the board of directors. Our employees do a great job engaging young people and serving as mentors, encouraging their interest in STEM careers and inspiring future engineers."
The ACE Mentoring program inspires curiosity. It encourages young people to look up from their devices and observe the world around them, using science to ask questions and find their own answers. Through programs like ACE, LG&E and KU employees are committed to inspiring the next generation — even if it takes a solar-charged cellphone.