- Monday, August 10, 2020
Internship Inspires a Future Utility Engineer
The ACEP Utility Student Internship experience was a little different this summer than last; participating students were still working with Alaska utilities, however, all work was completed remotely.
Josiah Alverts, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at UAF, interned with Alaska Power and Telephone and had the opportunity to travel to one of their project sites. Alvert’s primary project was a feasibility study investigating the potential to add solar energy and a battery energy storage system to the grid for the community of Eagle.
“I've been involved with many other side projects that I would say falls under the category of just experiencing what it's like to be an engineer for a utility in Alaska,” Alverts said.
One of those side projects was the opportunity to travel to the community of Tok, near the Canada border. The trip required him to conduct maintenance on the community’s power plant. AP&T wanted to give Alverts some real-world experience as a utility engineer.
“I was very excited just to get a look inside a power plant. I'd never been inside a power plant before, and Tok is the hub of a lot of the services they provide to communities around Tok, so a lot of their operations are based out of that power plant,” he adds.
Alverts helped replace the exhaust stacks for two of the diesel engines. While the generators are relatively new, the exhaust stacks are about 50 years old. Alverts realized that old equipment and infrastructure present a lot of challenges. Some sections of the power plant are very old, while others are more modern, so equipment requires different levels of maintenance and operation.
But, that didn’t daunt him. Instead, he feels a door has been opened and challenging opportunities have revealed themselves.
Alverts is inspired by 2019 ACEP utility intern David Chamberlain, who now works for AP&T full-time in Southeast Alaska on the installation of new hydroelectric turbines. “AP&T has to meet the challenge of correctly prioritizing a hundred different projects that need to get done. In the instance of the hydro project, most AP&T engineers are assigned to that project work for a couple months this summer, leaving a shortage for other projects during that time frame,” Alverts said.
He recommended the utility internship to any engineering students. He was impressed with program facilitators Heike Merkel and Patty Eagan, who provided support and a great framework under very challenging circumstances. He also enjoyed the virtual Microgrid Boot Camp, which kicked off the internship program in May.
“I like the state of Alaska. I like the ability to work for a utility in the state, and I think I would get to travel all over and see many different places. And, that makes me want to stay in-state and work for a utility,” Alverts says.
For more information on the ACEP Utility Student Internship, visit http://ausi.alaska.edu/.
Josiah Alverts stands with a new expansion tank he helped install at the AP&T power plant in Tok. Photo courtesy of Josiah Alverts.