Insights > ACES earns top ratings with STEM students

ACES earns top ratings with STEM students


Some of the best and brightest STEM students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the region recently visited Little Rock as part of the second annual Accessing Careers in Energy Summit (ACES).

Twenty students from Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee University, Southern University and Tennessee State University received stipends from event sponsors to travel to the summit and compete for scholarships, internships and careers upon graduation.

“We had a mix between computer science, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering students. It’s getting bigger and better every year,” said Brandiace McGuire, manager of Entergy Arkansas Customer Service Support who served as an ACES liaison for the company.

During the three-day event, students heard from representatives from the various event sponsors and presenters, including executives from Entergy Arkansas, MISO, SPP, ERCOT, PJM and the Arkansas Chapter of AABE (American Association of Blacks in Energy).

They also participated in a case study competition, in which they had to create a power resource plan to reduce emissions by 2030 and 2050 by using a mixture of fossil fuel and renewable resources.

The Jackson State University team won the competition, taking home $3,000 in prize money. In addition to their winnings, team members said they gained valuable experience and connections that will extend through their career.

“The ACES experience was nothing short of spectacular. From the moment of arriving, I felt very welcomed and well taken care of,” said Ka'Pri Burden, computer science honors student at Jackson State. “The atmosphere itself really enhanced the experience -- seeing people who look like me, really wanting to push me to be better, challenge me and put me into an environment where I can thrive and grow. It was really great.”

Fellow classmate Darian Colligan agreed.

“I got to learn more about the industry, network with students from surrounding HBCUs and land my first internship. I am truly grateful for the opportunity, and I will be an eternal advocate for the program,” she said.

At the end of the event, several students received full-time job offers upon graduation with salaries of more than $90,000 a year, while others were granted internships. In addition, all 20 attendees were awarded scholarships to continue their education.

McGuire said the event was a success and that they have plans to grow the program even more in the future.

“This means a lot to not only HBCUs but also the students, because they have true access,” she said. “They have access to more than just the industry, they now have a network of mentors they can go to in the future.”

Kacee Kirschvink
Manager, Entergy Arkansas Communications