Special To The New Journal and Guide
When 22-year-old Caleb Taylor gets ready for work in the morning he reflects on how his alma mater, Virginia State University (VSU), prepared him for his profession as a system protection technician with Dominion Energy.
“I pursued an Electrical Engineering Degree to challenge my mind and to make a difference in my community,” stated Taylor.
Taylor admits the college workload was grueling and challenging. Not only did VSU prepare him for his career, but it also introduced him to instructors who work at Dominion Energy. As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, Dominion Energy has partnered with VSU, a historically Black college in Ettrick near Petersburg for the Power and Energy Concentration program.
The curriculum was developed by Dominion Energy for rising juniors and seniors in the VSU Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Technologies program. Students are introduced to the power utility industry through hands-on learning and lectures. Each student must be nominated by a VSU faculty member followed by an application process. Ten students are then selected to attend on-site classes for eight weeks at Dominion Energy’s training facility in Chester, Virginia.
This fall’s semester marks the second year of the partnership. Taylor graduated in May 2022, and he works out of Dominion Energy’s Hampton office.
“Becoming an engineering technologist has provided me with numerous research, network, and job opportunities. My professors from Dominion Energy allowed me to continue my pursuit of knowledge about power transmission by actually working on Virginia’s electric grid,” stated Taylor.
The Yorktown High School graduate believes the coursework gave him an edge over countless engineering students from competing universities. “The Substation course with Dominion Energy tied directly into my job as a system protection technician because I work with all the equipment they discussed during the class. The class also provided a networking opportunity to continue my education to obtain my future engineering licenses,” added Taylor.
Jada Harris is another 2022 VSU graduate who works for Dominion Energy and is on the path to becoming an engineer; she currently designs and manages local projects. “Once I become an engineer, I will be accomplishing a dream. My family has been supportive and proud of all my successes. For me, becoming an engineer will impact my family and community by showing them that it is possible for you to live your dream,” stated Harris.
VSU Professor and Chair of the Department of Applied Engineering Technology Benedict Uzochukwu appreciates Dominion Energy employees investing their time and talent to the program, “Representatives from Dominion are highly engaged in our programs as industry advisors, and they appreciate the value of giving back to the university. We see the immediate and positive effect that the Power and Energy Concentration is having on our students and how it enhanced their skills necessary for workforce readiness.”
Dominion Energy Virginia President Ed Baine stated the program is personal to him, “I have spent my entire career in the energy industry — and I have never once had second thoughts about my career choice. I am excited about the program because I want a new generation of students to understand and have access to the endless opportunities that exist in the industry.”
Kevin Curtis, Dominion Energy’s Vice President of Electric Transmission, is proud to be a part of the VSU education experience because he believes it is a program that not only benefits the students, but it also benefits Dominion Energy.
“This program provides a great opportunity, not only for aspiring engineers, but also for Dominion Energy because it allows us to recruit the best to join our ranks and helps us provide safe, reliable energy to our customers,” Curtis stated.
As for Taylor, he said he comes from a family of business majors, “My family is ecstatic for me. My entire family went to VSU for Business while I went for Engineering and Technology. They were a little disappointed that I didn’t continue the legacy of business majors but are proud I found something that interested me. Even though I walk a different path from them, we’re all going to end up at the same spot, and that’s greatness.”
Caleb Taylor (left), a VSU grad, looks on as he works as a Dominion Energy system protection technician.
Jada Harris (left), a VSU 2022 cum laude grad, works on location for Dominion Energy as a customer projects I designer.