GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power wants to spark young people's interest in the energy industry. As part of "Blacks in Energy Awareness Month", the company invited about 100 students from across South Mississippi to Plant Watson in Gulfport Monday. The event exposed minority students to different career opportunities.
You could feel the energy in the room as 100 teenagers took on an interactive competition. Their challenge was to use simple household materials and their brains to build the tallest tower possible.
"We're allowing them to experience and play with ingenuity. Hopefully, this may spark some interest for them on the engineering side," said Frank Magee, Mississippi Power Community Development Representative.
From engineering and marketing to jobs that require technical skills, Mississippi Power introduced the students to all sorts of careers in the energy field. Nine high schools, along with the Gulfport Job Corps and Climb CDC, participated in the "Power Up Your Career" session.
"I see a lot of different opportunities where I could use a degree or opportunities that are available if I choose not to get a four-year degree. It sort of gives you an idea of what's available out there, and something I really appreciate," said West Harrison High student Jasharee Epting.
The Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy co-hosted the event to expose minority students to jobs they might not have considered before.
"We've seen that there's not as many young minorities that are looking at the energy sector, so events like this let them know there are opportunities in these sectors for them," said Magee. "By letting them see other young engineers and people that are in the professional segment, it may spark an interest and help lead them toward certain courses in college or even various careers."
And by shedding some light on the various career options, Mississippi Power can help guide the students as they get ready to graduate.
"It helped me brainstorm a lot on what to do, what not to do, how to present myself in an interview, and I just thank them for their support," said Climb CDC student Demetrios Bryant.
"They helped clear some things up like resumes and everything, give good advice and gave me a lot of information to help me prepare for the future a little bit," said Epting.
The students also learned about scholarship opportunities. Plus, the winner of the energy competition will get to partner with Mississippi Power employees on a community service project for their school.