The future of engineering in Mississippi got a rocket boost today when Entergy and the Entergy Charitable Foundation announced a major financial award to Jackson State University. The company gave a $400,000 gift that will establish the Entergy Power Systems Laboratory in the School of Engineering, College of Science, Engineering and Technology. It will also allow JSU to offer a power systems track in the engineering program.
Entergy also made a surprise, additional $100,000 award that will provide scholarships to JSU engineering students. “This is a strategic investment in the future work force of Mississippi to make our state more attractive for energy research, development and manufacturing,” said Haley Fisackerly, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Mississippi, Inc., speaking at a press conference held at JSU’s School of Engineering. “The students who graduate from this program will be an incredible resource not only for Entergy, but for businesses and industry throughout Mississippi.” “We’re extremely thankful to Entergy for this generous grant to help us equip the Power Systems Laboratory in our new School of Engineering building,” said Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr., president of Jackson State University. “Entergy’s gift will have a lasting impact on our students as they prepare for challenging careers in the utility industry.”
The Power Systems Laboratory will let students conduct experiments in power simulation, power electronics, electrical machines and other subjects related to managing and modernizing the nation’s energy transmission systems. Students will also learn about electric grid infrastructure, energy conservation, renewable energy and large-scale smart grids. “By putting in place local programs like this, we’re preparing area students for careers in a growing industry,” said Mike Kansler, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Nuclear. “Young Mississippians need to know that Entergy is a leader in the power industry, and that there are many opportunities for future careers right here a home.”
The availability of engineering graduates is especially critical for the utility industry, where a large percentage of the work force is nearing retirement. To guarantee a steady supply of qualified replacements, Entergy has increased efforts to renew interest in engineering-related fields and work with schools to expand degree programs. Sponsorship of the JSU Power Systems Laboratory and funding of the scholarships is part of Entergy’s Destination Education initiative, which seeks innovative projects that develop critical thinking skills and enhance academic preparedness in math, science and technical fields. “Engineering is definitely making a comeback,” said Randy Helmick, vice president of transmission for Entergy. “We believe the new program at Jackson State will attract today’s young minds to study electric power systems and provide a pipeline for future generations of engineers.”
So far, 2009 has been a busy year for Destination Education. Entergy recently announced a major contribution to Mississippi State University’s Promise Program, a scholarship program that helps children of low-income Mississippi families. This summer, the company also made a $300,000 contribution to the Mississippi Building Blocks early education initiative and launched a nuclear energy curriculum program in state high schools called “Power Path to Nuclear” – the first program of its kind in the nation. Today’s grant is from Entergy Mississippi, Inc., Entergy Nuclear and Entergy’s transmission group.
About Entergy, Mississippi, Inc.: Entergy Mississippi, Inc. provides electricity to more than 433,000 customers in 45 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more information, visit http://www.entergy-mississippi.com.