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BPA electrical engineers head back to college, this time to teach
4/16/2012 12:00 AM
BPA electrical engineers Brent Bischoff (shown here) and Jeff Hildreth are back in school this spring, this time to teach Washington State University Vancouver students about energy systems.
Two BPA electrical engineers are back in the classroom, sharing their industry knowledge, skills and experience with Washington State University students in Vancouver, Wash. Jeff Hildreth and Brent Bischoff are teaching a senior-level electrical engineering class (ECE 411 Energy Systems) this term at WSU's Salmon Creek campus.
The class of 14 students began in January. Bischoff gives weekly lectures every Monday and Wednesday, while on Thursdays, Hildreth teaches a lab on the same topic. Most recently, the class focused on single-phase and three-phase transformers.
"I find it very rewarding because the students we have are really motivated and enthusiastic," says Hildreth.
"The students really have an appreciation for learning from people who have real world experience, so they're fun to teach," Bischoff says.
One of those students is Lukas Boler, who is also participating in BPA's student program as an electrical technician. Once he graduates, Boler will likely be offered a position at BPA. He says of all his electrical engineering courses, this class with Hildreth and Bischoff is his favorite. "They're able to share in-depth industry insight that I've never had before. They're really doing a great job teaching," says Boler.
During a lab session for WSU’s Energy Systems class, BPA electrical engineer Jeff Hildreth teaches students about single-phase and three-phase transformers.
During a lab session for WSU's Energy Systems class, BPA electrical engineer Jeff Hildreth teaches students about single-phase and three-phase transformers.
Hildreth and Bischoff admit preparing for the class has been a lot of work, especially since this is the first year WSU Vancouver has offered the Energy Systems course. The two engineers had never taught before and had to design the curriculum from scratch. While the class is personally taxing, it does offer the new teachers a chance to increase their own understanding of electrical engineering and improve their communication skills.
Last fall, the director of the WSU Vancouver School of Engineering asked BPA if any agency engineers were willing to teach a college level course. Hildreth and Bischoff volunteered for the opportunity and are performing their teaching duties on their own time.
Would the men do it again? Possibly says Bischoff. "I think team teaching is definitely the way to go because it's less of a time commitment," he says.
Hildreth notes that the job is harder than he thought it would be. "It's funny, because my wife is a teacher, so I have a whole new appreciation for that profession and what they do," he says.
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