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Engineering the Future: Meet HG&E’s 2020 Cadet Engineers

September 07, 2020:

Every summer, HG&E welcomes eager high school graduates as they kick off their pre-college summer internship with the Cadet Engineering program. The historic summer of 2020 was a little different. Benjamin (Ben) Richter and John (Jack) Shea, 2020 recipients of HG&E's Cornelius J. Moriarty, Jr. Scholarship for Cadet Engineers, are entering their college careers during a global pandemic, and so they entered the workforce this summer under some unusual circumstances – faces covered by masks, social distancing requirements with their colleagues, and mandates to perform some of their work related duties remotely.

With a wide-smile behind a mask with significant sentimental value, Ben excitedly talks about his interest in technology, something that started as a hobby but he hopes will develop into a career. A lifelong Holyoke resident and graduate of Saint Mary's High School, Ben will be attending University of Massachusetts Amherst this fall with a major in Computer Engineering.

Ben talked about the day he was at school for the last time, never thinking he wouldn't be back to say goodbye. “My birthday is March 14, I thought I was just getting a two week spring break and extended birthday celebration, but here we are five months later,” said Ben. An avid reader, Star War fan, video game guru, and musical theater enthusiast, Ben's spare time is never dull and he had more of it than usual when he discovered his senior year had come to an early end.

This summer, Ben is working alongside Utility IT Supervisor, Ed Griffin. Ben has assisted in a department-wide email migration, a Windows upgrade, and is now beginning to trace fiber around the city via HG&E's GIS system. “I did not realize how extensive HG&E's telecom business was before I started,” said Ben. “It's interesting to see the intricacies of the network.”

Ben talked about several people in his life who helped inspire him to find his passion and follow his dreams. “The person who inspired me the most would probably be my theology and drama teacher, Mr. LePage. He taught me that I should follow my passions to find what I will want to do in the future, and that led me down the path to engineering,” Ben mentioned.

Typically, Ben would be spending time with his new colleague and fellow 2020 Cadet, Jack Shea, but this year is far from typical. A quick study in HG&E's remote operations, Jack works from home on most days as he prepares for his move to Cambridge this fall. A graduate of E.N. White Elementary School and Holyoke High School, Jack will be attending Harvard University in the fall with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Philosophy.

An 18-year old with an impressive resume already, Jack is humble and kind. He immediately talked about his hopes to come back to Holyoke some day and help the community that gave him so much. “It's so nice here,” Jack said. “When people say they can't wait to move away, I always say I am coming back. I love hiking and spending time with my friends and family.”

As a kid, Jack loved reading, LEGOs, and all things STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Jack grew up as the oldest of three boys and has set an example for his brothers by getting involved in student government, participating in track and cross country, doing well in school, and working hard.
In addition to his mission of working hard and always trying to have a leg up by going above and beyond, Jack credits his high school biology teacher, Eliana Shwayder with encouraging him to apply to Harvard University. Ms. Shwayder is a Harvard alumnus who ran track. Not only did she encourage Jack, but she wrote him an incredible recommendation.

At HG&E, Jack is working with Ian Beauregard, 2019 Cadet Engineer, in the Electric Division. As a team, they are updating electrical inventory, data, and GIS mapping. “I am learning a lot,” said Jack. “Maybe someday I will come back and work at HG&E.”

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for these impressive young engineers. 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. The Cadet Program has allowed HG&E to keep engineering talent local. Currently, 13 full-time employees came through the program at the start of their careers.

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