New York Power Authority Launches 2024 P-TECH Internship Program to Help Students from Under-Resourced Communities Develop Clean Energy Workforce Skills

The New York Power Authority (NYPA), in partnership with Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), launched its fourth annual internship program designed to increase the number of students from under-resourced communities pursuing studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The innovative educational model focuses on college attainment and career readiness and offers students in under-resourced areas of New York State the opportunity to develop skills and competencies that will translate directly to competitive careers. Forty-five students will participate in the Power Authority’s paid internship program—increased from 40 last year—and be matched with mentors and assigned to various energy-related projects.

“In order to achieve New York’s ambitious clean energy goals, it is imperative that students across the state are provided with the resources and opportunities needed to develop industry workforce skills,” said New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “Students participating in the NYPA P-TECH Internship will work on a variety of engaging projects and be paired with NYPA mentors to receive workplace experience and cultivate the skills needed to succeed in New York’s rapidly growing clean energy economy.”

The Power Authority offers six-week paid internships to dozens of P-TECH and community college scholars from under-resourced communities near NYPA generation and transmission assets. Interns will spend most of their time working alongside their peers and NYPA employees, contributing directly to real projects that further New York State’s clean energy goals. 

In addition to the hands-on, technical projects, interns receive one-on-one mentorship, a full day each week devoted to financial literacy, introductions to NYPA staff across different departments, and professionalism training led by Follow Us To Success, a national firm with an emphasis on helping underserved student populations from urban and rural backgrounds to close the post-secondary achievement gap.

P-TECH is partnering with the Power Authority and local high schools and community colleges to educate students and ensure they have the skills required to enter the workforce after graduation. Eligible participants include high school students and those in community colleges targeting two-year associate degrees in a STEM field.

Under the annual internship program, participating students have completed a variety of significant projects, including NYPA customer energy audits, analysis of vegetation management along existing Power Authority transmission lines, and coordination with the City of Albany on the deployment of smart sensors in LED streetlights.

In Western New York, Central New York, the Mohawk Valley and Southeastern New York, students will work on the following projects with one-on-one mentoring and weekly skill development sessions:

  • Western New York:
    • Students from SUNY Erie and SUNY Niagara Community College will work alongside NYPA engineers at the Niagara Power Project to assist in developing an outage plan for generating units. Students will also assess the exit gates at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant to explore how to make them more pedestrian friendly.
  • Central New York/Mohawk Valley:
    • Students from Mohawk Valley Community College will work with employees from the Syracuse Industrial Assessment Center to train and conduct energy audits for NYPA ReCharge NY customers. 
    • Students from Mohawk Valley Community College’s Rome campus will work alongside NYPA employees from the Clark Energy Center to map bird populations and nesting sites near NYPA infrastructure using drone mapping technology. Those students will have the opportunity to earn their FAA part 107 license, which is required to fly small drones for commercial or government use.
  • Southeastern New York:
    • Students from the New York City College of Technology and LaGuardia Community College will work with engineers from Macan Deve to conduct energy audits for NYPA ReCharge NY customers. Students will have the opportunity to earn lighting technician and HVAC certifications.
    • Additional students from LaGuardia Community College will work alongside NYPA engineers to analyze various Department of Citywide Administrative Services properties to help determine ideal sites to locate solar and energy storage projects.

Since its inception in 2021, 83 students have graduated from the internship program, including seven individuals who have graduated from college and secured jobs in the energy industry. Two of the program’s graduates, Rafael Calderon and Edina Smith, are now employed by the Power Authority. 

“The P-TECH Internship program was a great hands-on learning experience that covered a variety of engineering fields,” said Rafael Calderon, 2023 P-TECH Internship graduate and NYPA Environmental Justice program coordinator. “The learning and networking opportunities the internship provided me with were invaluable, and I am happy to be at NYPA helping coordinate the program to benefit future students.”

“P-TECH helped me recognize my true self-potential and encouraged me to consider fields I may be good in,” said Edina Smith, 2021 P-TECH Internship graduate and NYPA assistant system operator. “The teachers helped me realize that growth is not linear by pushing me out of my comfort zone.” 

"Paid internships are critical in ensuring student success and upward mobility,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. “Thanks to the New York Power Authority, students from SUNY Erie, SUNY Niagara, and Mohawk Valley Community College will continue to gain vital, hands-on experience in STEM fields this summer to further our state’s ambitious climate goals. The experience these students gain will help them prepare for careers in competitive and crucial fields and SUNY is proud to continue to support this incredible internship program and P-TECH."

“CUNY is grateful to continue its successful partnership with the New York Power Authority, which will provide students at City Tech and LaGuardia with access to internships and professional certifications as lighting technician and HVAC professionals,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Access to such opportunities will not only help New York prepare for climate change but prepare students for careers in the burgeoning clean economy long after they’ve graduated.”

“I want to thank NYPA for providing this exciting opportunity to our Engineering Science and Mechanical Technology students,” said Dr. Demetrius Sarigiannis, assistant professor of engineering science at Niagara County Community College. “I think internships like this, early in their education, really motivate students in their studies and help them see connections between theory and practice."

"We are so excited to partner with the New York Power Authority as we launch the 2024 P-TECH Summer Internship Program,” said Mohawk Valley Community College Executive Dean of Community and Workforce Development Sarah Lam. “Empowering students from disadvantaged communities and working with them to foster essential skills in the clean energy sector is such an amazing opportunity.  This initiative not only cultivates a sustainable workforce but also champions diversity and opportunity in our shared future.”