Governor Perry presents grant to TEES/NPI POWER SET program

May 14, 2010

Governor Rick Perry recognized the Palacios High School POWER SET (Powerful Opportunities for Women Eager and Ready for Science, Engineering and Technology) program on Thursday (May 13) and presented a grant of nearly $176,000 to support a similar program that will include both young men and women, named POWER SET WIT, or Workforce in Training. The Workforce Development grants are given annually to organizations providing workforce training programs.

The WIT program was developed as a result of the success of the original POWER SET program that was created by the Nuclear Power Institute (NPI) at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). Dr. Lee Peddicord, NPI director, noted that POWER SET WIT was expanded to include male as well as female students who are interested in pursuing careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but who seek two-year technical degrees or certificates.

"Like the original POWER SET, WIT programs will give students the exposure, encouragement and knowledge to not only meet their goals and industry's needs but also give them confidence to consider further education," said Peddicord. "There is a growing need for people with these skills and qualifications, and programs are now available at several community colleges in South Texas, including Wharton County Junior College, Brazosport College, Victoria College and Texas State Technical Colleges."

The POWER SET program was initiated at Palacios High School by the NPI in conjunction with the South Texas Nuclear Operating Company. Additional POWER SET groups, including POWER SET WIT will be in place this fall in Bay City, Louise, Sweeny and Van Vleck. More than 100 young women have completed or are enrolled in POWER SET programs.

Among those attending the Governor’s presentation were representatives from NPI, the South Texas Project, county, city, and Palacios School District administrators, POWER SET members and their parents, POWER SET mentors from STP and the student body of Palacios High School.

Joining Governor Perry on the Palacios High School stage were Peddicord, Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald; Ed Halpin, President and CEO, South Texas Nuclear Operating Company; Dr. Betty McCrohan, president of Wharton County Junior College; Texas Workforce Commissioner Andres Alcantar; and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott. The current members of the PHS POWER SET program were also on the stage, including Elizabeth Castandon, a senior at PHS, who spoke on behalf of the group.

In his remarks, Governor Perry noted that Texas is on track to build new nuclear plants, which makes this program even more important. "The POWER SET WIT program will help keep Texas’ nuclear industry moving forward," he said. "And we’re not just investing in these students who have such high potential; we’re also investing in the future of our state and country."

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