Camden students get ConnectED at Alabama Power: Computer, engineering jobs await

Camden students get ConnectED at Alabama Power: Computer, engineering jobs await
About 30 students from three sixth-grade classes at Camden Elementary School got 'ConnectED' at a program sponsored by Apple and Alabama Power, giving kids a bird's-eye view of computer careers, ranging from designing phone and computer apps to programming to engineering and design. Here, students broadened their knowledge by viewing antique electrical appliances and modern artwork at Alabama Power's Corporate Archives in the 1925 Building in Birmingham. (Donna Cope/Alabama NewsCenter)

It’s said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

In the case of students at Hobbs Elementary School in Camden, Apple is ensuring kids’ intellectual growth through its ConnectED program. At the start of the school year, every one of Hobbs’ 600 students received an iPad, thanks to Apple ConnectED.

On May 15, Alabama Power provided a two-hour program that helped 30 Hobbs students continue exploring the new wave of technologies and jobs.

Betina Johnson said her sixth-graders – whether using their iPads to take notes about the session or take photos in the company’s 1925 Building and Corporate Archives – were thrilled to be at Alabama Power.

“The iPads rolled out when school started this year, and my class has used them all year for reading and research,” said Johnson, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education at the University of West Alabama.

The students enjoyed learning about engineering and app design during their visit to Alabama Power headquarters in Birmingham after their trek to the Apple store at Summit Mall in Hoover. Employees from Community Initiatives, Power Delivery, Marketing and Corporate Archives presented a fun, informative look at what it takes to keep the lights on for 1.5 million customers.

Computer programming and app design are among careers of the future, Folk said. (Donna Cope/Alabama NewsCenter)

Community Initiatives Manager Hallie Bradley welcomed students and teachers, and provided each child a copy of Alabama Power’s Energy Explorers booklet.

“There’s so much that goes into keeping the power on, with more than 84,000 miles of power lines,” said Engineering Supervisor Brandi Vines of the company’s Trussville Crew Headquarters. “With 1.5 million power poles, we have one power pole for every one of our customers.”

To work in engineering, Vines advised the children to start early and establish a firm foundation, focusing on science and math.

“We can really have an impact when the power lines go out, so this is one of the most satisfying things about being a distribution engineer – to help restore power,” said Vines, a civil engineering graduate from UAB. “It takes a lot of people to make this company work, and it takes really smart engineers to program our underground networks and to design the transmission line network.”

Hobbs students get ‘ConnectED’ to careers from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Distribution Planning Engineer Kyle Clary showed the students an AMI meter designed by company engineers.

“The thing I like about my job is knowing that what I do makes a difference,” said Clary, a young engineer who is involved in the company’s Linemen, Engineers and Apprentice Programs (LEAP). “Engineering is a great, fun career, and there are so many opportunities out there for you.”

Dave Folk, Digital Marketing strategist, told the children that amazing opportunities “are out there waiting for you.”

Folk, who works on the company’s Shoreline Management app for its 14 lakes – and developed his own app to locate the nearest food trucks – said there are 13 million app developers. He said that it’s possible for students to develop their own apps, using Swift, a programming language designed by Apple that teaches the building blocks of programming.

“Doing software programming development and design is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the country,” said Folk, 28. “You can learn the language and go anywhere in the world. You fill a need – you can build the app yourself. Think about what kids around you are interested in, what games they like to play and go from there.”

Johnson said that having technology available to students makes a huge difference. Johnson was among teachers and administrators who received a Mac Book and an iPad mini through ConnectED. Apple will support the devices through 2019.

“At the end of April, we started a class assignment to learn about the Gee’s Bend community in Camden, where we live,” Johnson said. Using their iPads, her students read “Leaving Gee’s Bend” as part of their history and social studies classes, and even made a music video about Gees Bend.

“We tied in quilting and African-American culture,” she said. “We want them to know more about their community in the Wilcox County Black Belt area.”

Johnson thanked Alabama Power for providing a program that is aimed at preparing students for college or a career.

“We thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Alabama Power,” she said. “The kids were very amazed about all the technology that is used.”

Related Stories