By Pattern Energy Stories
June 25th, 2021
As the school year ended around the United States in June, graduates and their families have been preparing for the next stage of life. For Samuel (Sam) Fields, that meant pursuing a career in precision machining, and that required technical school.
Pattern Energy’s Lost Creek Wind facility has been funding local scholarships since 2010 and recently expanded the funding. Now there are three scholarships for traditional universities and two for trade schools.
Sam Fields is the recipient of a $2,000 scholarship to help pay for his studies at State Technical College in Linn, Missouri. He has been accepted to a two-year program majoring in Precision Machining.
I spoke to the Site Logistics Coordinator at Lost Creek Wind, Jennifer Owens, about the process students go through to apply for one of the five scholarships being offered.
“We love being a part of the communities we operate in, and it made sense to offer more scholarships, especially for the trades,” she told me. “We’re proud of all our graduates, and it feels good helping some of them pursue their dreams.”
To qualify, each applicant must submit a letter of recommendation and a personal essay written by the student. In it, the student writes about the education they want to pursue, the school they want to attend, and what their ultimate goal is.
Information goes to local schools about the scholarships every year, and they let the students know how to apply.
“We need more applicants,” Jennifer said. (Note: If you live in the region and know some kids entering their senior year of HS, check with your local HS about scholarship opportunities from Lost Creek Wind!)
For the scholarship recipients, their High School awards them the check with the school’s name on it, and the student presents it to their post-secondary school. If there are any funds left over, they go to the student to support other educational expenses, such as books or room and board.
Precision Machining is a technical term that encompasses a number of industries - more than we could list here. Everything… everything technical relies on precision machining these days. Think of your car, airplanes, railroads, ships at sea, rockets, computers, satellites… the list goes on and on.
For a simplistic explanation, picture your car’s engine. If the pistons aren’t machined to exactly the right size, when you’re driving down the road… well, you wouldn’t be. Without humanity’s ability to precision machine parts and tools, we would never have advanced into the civilization we are now, and the need for people who can do this work is increasing as the world gets more technical.
“I’ve always liked working on things,” Sam told me, and then I cut him off.
You see, I had seen a picture of his truck before we spoke, and as a fan of awesome off-road vehicles, I needed to know its story.
“Tell me about your truck!” I interrupted, a little too loudly. He laughed.
“Thank you for asking. It’s been my project for a while and took me a year to get to where it is now.”
His truck is a 1971 Ford F250, and when I asked him how bad the gas mileage was, this time he cut me off as he replied confidently, “Oh no….no, no, no. We don’t talk in gas mileage.”
I was intrigued even more. “You don’t? What’s the deal?”
He replied, “I converted the engine and transmission to a diesel Cummins 4BT.” (If you know what he’s talking about, you’d be impressed too.)
If anyone needed proof that Sam Fields will be successful in his chosen career path, one look at his truck would show you this is a young man headed in the right direction.
He works in a local machine shop right now, making precision parts for trains.
He said the summer job he has now has spoken to him about potential opportunities if he’d like to come back and work for them after he graduates.
I asked him if he’d do it.
“It’s really nice to have options,” he said in a thoughtful tone. “I’ve seen the news about how there’s a shortage of skilled trade professionals in the United States, so when I graduate, I plan to see what’s out there for me opportunity-wise, and then I can choose what’s best for me.
The scholarship is terrific, it’s going to make a difference. I’ll be living in the dorms, have different expenses, and having some help means a lot.”
Good luck with your plans, Sam! Everyone is rooting for you.