Basin Electric talks engineering with local college students


Lance Blumhagen, Basin Electric employment coordinator, (back left) and Gavin McCollam, Basin Electric engineering services director, (back right) present to mechanical engineering students April 21 at the University of Jamestown (ND).

Today’s trivia question: How many engineers are employed at Basin Electric?

The answer: Many.

Engineering-based careers at Basin Electric are to be had in departments such as Engineering and Construction, Transmission, Operations, and Resource Planning, as well as throughout subsidiaries such as Dakota Gasification Company.

For that reason, Gavin McCollam, Basin Electric engineering services director, and Lance Blumhagen, Basin Electric employment coordinator, presented an overview of the cooperative and its mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering careers to mechanical engineering students at the University of Jamestown April 21 in Jamestown, ND.

“Engineering courses can be so focused on the particular subject that it’s sometimes difficult to know how that subject is going to be practiced in the real world,” McCollam says. “So I try to give them a feel for what they’d actually be doing as an engineer, so they can hopefully be better equipped to decide if they even want to be one, or what discipline they might want to go into.”

While talking with students, McCollam also expands the conversation to courses of study that can be overlooked in the engineering realm, such as speech, English, administrative skills, and even extracurricular activities such as drama or music.

“I try to explain that we can be the smartest engineers in the world, but if we can’t explain our ideas intelligently to a wide variety of individuals, our chances of success in the field will decrease,” he says.

From the perspective of Basin Electric’s Human Resources department, there’s great value in connecting with students in nearby colleges. According to Blumhagen, the employee recruitment team utilizes career fairs, advertising, and social media as recruiting tools, while college presentations are an effective way to get more specific about various employment opportunities at the cooperative.

“I think it’s important to visit the local colleges that have students in fields of study which we offer careers in, because it helps obtain local talent instead of the students seeking opportunities elsewhere,” Blumhagen says. “These presentations are a great way to show students how their education applies to what we do on a daily basis, as well as show how Basin Electric is a great place to build a career.”

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