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Engineering the Future: HG&E's Cadet Engineers

August 26, 2015:

Grace Hamel at Hadley StationFrom maintenance and repair to hydroelectric operations, Cadets at the Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) are learning every facet of the business, while developing a competitive advantage among college classmates.

Grace Hamel, a 2015 graduate of Holyoke High School (HHS), was named HG&E's 2015 Cadet Engineer.  As part of the Scholarship Program, she is working at HG&E alongside Steve Roy, Hydroelectric Maintenance Supervisor, throughout the summer.  This fall, Grace will be attending Northeastern University in Boston with a major in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering.

“My first few weeks at Holyoke Gas & Electric have been interesting and I am very excited about the opportunity to work at Hadley Station,” said Grace.  “It was surprising to see how many locations HG&E has, and the number of turbines and solar generators that power the City is impressive.”

At E.N. White Elementary School, Grace and her class did a project related to landfills, which piqued her interest in the sciences.  “We buried plastic bags in 5th grade and didn't remove them until 8th grade,” Grace said.  “It was eye-opening to see the properties of the bag didn't change at all in 3 years.”

The largest factor in her decision to pursue a science related career was her brother Brendan, a strong role model in her life.  Brendan is a 2002 HG&E Cadet Engineer, graduate of Holyoke High School and Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and now works as an Engineer for Plymouth Power.

Grace has a strong love for Holyoke and her Irish heritage, as you may have seen during Holyoke's Green Season, she was named a 2015 Colleen. Throughout this experience, Grace became a well-known, local celebrity riding and running down the streets of Holyoke.

At the young age of 18, Grace already has an impressive resume, including being named a 2015 National Merit Scholar, HHS Class of 2015 Salutatorian, HG&E's 2015 Cadet Engineer Scholarship Awardee, member of student government, Cross Country Team Captain and record holder, President of the STEM Academy, and a local volunteer.  Grace is a humble, intelligent, hardworking, and enthusiastic; we can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

Jhonatan Escobar at Hadley Station.Jhonatan Escobar, 2013 Graduate of Holyoke High School, is a seasoned veteran of the Cadet Engineering Program now in his third summer.  Jhonatan is a Junior Civil Engineering major at Western New England University (WNEU).

“This year has been my best year yet,” said Jhonatan.  “There are a lot of interesting projects going on at Hadley Station, I am learning so much.”

Jhonatan described his favorite project as an eel hoist, which he designed and implemented on his own.  The fishway team was having trouble lifting heavy buckets of eels up a 20-foot vertical.  As one of Jhonatan's summer projects, he was assigned to solve this problem.  He was able to build a hoist system, making the team's job easier and safer.

Born in Colombia, Jhonatan came to the United States when he was 9 years old.  At the time, he did not know any English but quickly matriculated into life at McMahon Elementary School.

Math and Science were always very interesting to Jhonatan, but it wasn't until his sophomore year at HHS that he decided he would like to become an engineer.  “My cousin went to UMass for Engineering and worked as a civil engineer in the transportation field,” said Jhonatan.  “His job is really appealing to me, I am extremely interested in infrastructure, which is the reason I am working in the Hydro Division at HG&E.”

Last summer, Jhonatan spent a month studying engineering in Shandong, China with 8 of his peers from WNEU.  During this study abroad program, Jhonatan experienced the life and culture of China, collaborated with engineering students from Shandong University, and participated in a rigorous academic schedule.  This year, he is planning to join a team at WNEU to build a home in Colombia, giving back to his homeland.

The Cornelius J. Moriarty, Jr. Scholarship for Cadet Engineers is open to City of Holyoke residents who are graduating from a duly accredited senior secondary school and have been accepted into an accredited engineering program.  For additional application criteria, please contact Holyoke Gas & Electric Manager's office at (413) 536-9313.

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