The group of students timidly gathered around the “rock,” intrigued by its size and purpose.
But this was no ordinary rock. It was the ROC-800, a Remote Operation Controller that takes raw data from the field and converts it into a signal so that CPS Energy system operators can monitor voltage levels and make sure there is enough power throughout the city.
More than 40 students learned about the ROC-800. And these were no ordinary students — they’re migrant students.
A migrant student is one whose parents move to work on a seasonal basis in the agriculture, farming or fishing industries. Migrant students have one thing in common — their education is frequently interrupted during the school year.
Frequent moves and absences mean that migrant students can quickly fall behind academically. The dropout rate for migrant students is an alarming 45 percent, and Texas has the largest migrant population in the nation, with 115,000 migrant students.
In our area, the Education Services Center Region 20 administers a Migrant Education Program to help migrant students overcome the challenges of the migratory lifestyle and successfully transition to a post-secondary education or employment. Education Services Centers assist school districts in improving student performance and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of school operations.
CPS Energy recently partnered with Region 20 to offer migrant students an opportunity to explore different career fields. After touring the University of Incarnate Word to learn about education opportunities, the students embarked on a tour of CPS Energy’s Energy Management Center to learn about a variety of technical careers, including system operators, technicians, programmers and engineers.
Ellie Ross, migrant educational specialist with Region 20, was grateful the tour allowed the students to see an actual work environment with a variety of career opportunities.
Jobs in the System Operations and Customer Reliability department require a variety of educational levels, from technical certification, to associate and bachelor degrees.
The students were captivated by Ronnie Pape’s story of how he started out at CPS Energy as a janitor while going to night school to earn his associates’ degree and has worked his way up to supervisor of Remote SCADA Systems.
The tour was a big hit for the kids. They felt that the career options available at CPS Energy were reachable and attainable.
“I learned that you don’t necessarily need to go to a big university to get a great education,” said Santa, a senior at Southside High School. “CPS Energy had great people in different fields and they gave great advice.”
Tommy Ross, outage management system manager at CPS Energy, helped coordinate the tour. He and his co-workers proudly explained the variety of jobs available to students if they stay in school.