Middle school students spent a day at MGE to experience careers in energy.

Wearing shirts with Albert Einstein on the front, more than 50 middle school students were crafting tabletop wind turbines and learning what makes electric vehicles (EVs) different during their trip to MGE.

Welcome to STEAM camp 2017—The Genius Tour!  STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math—all of which are practiced through various careers at MGE.

During his opening remarks to the campers, MGE's Community Education Manager Jim Jenson said a career is about more than earning a paycheck. It's about what keeps you coming back to work every day.

MGE served as one of nine hosts across the area for this year's weeklong STEAM camp. The program, coordinated by Strang, Inc., a local architecture, engineering and interior design firm, gives students the opportunity to experience careers in STEAM disciplines such as the electric and gas industry.

"Technology is changing the energy world rapidly," said Jenson. "The young people visiting MGE will be some of the scientists, engineers and information technology professionals addressing our critical energy needs tomorrow. Partnering in this program is a natural fit for us."

One of the first activities of the day was to create model wind turbines. The objective was to figure out how to make the blades spin when placed in front of a fan.

"I like it," one of the STEAM campers said of the activity. "I like being able to build things."


MGE Community Services Manager Mario Garcia Sierra watches as a STEAM camper puts his model wind turbine to the test.


STEAM campers teamed up to build the wind turbines.


Campers also learned about renewable energy and EVs. Without a fuel tank or exhaust, EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, making them a greener option, especially when charged using renewable energy from MGE's network of public charging stations.

STEAM Camp kids see an EV

MGE Community Services Manager Dave Benforado explains to campers how MGE's Chevy Bolt and Nissan LEAF run on electric power.

"You can say these cars have a zero carbon footprint," MGE Community Services Manager Dave Benforado told the campers.

Campers also toured MGE's Distribution Operations Center where our community grid and our natural gas system's pressure are constantly monitored for safety and reliability. And, campers walked where history and present day collide at MGE's Blount Generating Station in downtown Madison. Built in 1902, the landmark power plant today burns natural gas to power our community.

The final activity was a tour of MGE's training facility in Fitchburg where students got an up-close view of the kind of training needed to work safely overhead on energized lines and underground in confined spaces. The 10,000-square-foot facility is used by MGE electric and gas operations personnel because proper education and training keep crews—and customers—safe.

Campers came from the Urban League of Greater Madison, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County and Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland. The camp is provided at no cost to attendees.


published: Jun-29-2017