For Shandi Taix, an Energy Services and Renewable Technician student at Bismarck State College, descending from a wind tower via harness, carabiners and ropes is just another day in college Q: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHERE ARE YOU FROM? A: I was born and raised in Bismarck. I always enjoyed learning and going to school, and I always enjoyed pushing myself. I had taken college credits in high school, so I knew that I wanted to go to college after I graduated. And I think my interest in renewable energy came from thinking that America kind of needs to be jumping on the wagon here. A lot of other countries are way ahead of us in renewables, and I think we’re going to start moving in that direction, too. So I knew that this would be a fulfilling career, because we’re working for a smarter technology – something that’s going to help the world. Q: DID YOU JOIN THE ENERGY SERVICES AND RENEWABLE TECHNICIAN PROGRAM AS SOON AS YOU STARTED AT BISMARCK STATE? A: No, not right away. This is my second year of college – I’m in a four-year program – and during my first year, I just started doing my general classes. For instance, I took a computer networking class, partly because I don’t come from a background that is really technical, so I wanted to challenge myself. And it was an online class, but luckily, the teacher was on campus, and I talked to her. She asked me if I knew what I wanted to do. In the back of my head, I knew about renewable energy; and I felt like, hey, maybe this is what I want to do. I told her that, and she said I should go talk to this teacher over in the National Energy Center. So I did, and it was right then – listening to him talk about what he does, and how he feels good about his job and how fulfilling it is – I think that was the home run. I knew when I was talking to him that the field was the right choice for me. He mentioned that there are not many females in this line of work. But I think that helped push me in this direction, too, because like I said, I always like to meet a challenge. Q: DID YOU HAVE ANY SHOP CLASSES OR OTHER TECHNICAL TRAINING IN HIGH SCHOOL? A: I actually did not! I had no experience with this at all. My first day in the program last fall, it honestly was my first exposure to the tools and to pretty much everything. Q: WAS ANYONE ELSE IN THE SAME BOAT? A: I would say that I probably had the least experience in the class. Most everyone in the class that had some sort of mechanical experience. So I was definitely a little behind, and I’ve worked hard to catch up. Q: DID THEY TEASE YOU ABOUT IT? A: Oh, sure, but never in a mean way. We’re a small class; there are only seven of us. And we all get along. And meanwhile, even though there are so many things in this class that are new, I’ve been doing well. Q: WAS THERE A MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW YOU’D BE ABLE TO HANDLE THE MATERIAL? A: We spent a lot of time working with hydraulic systems, and I think that was definitely the hardest to pick up. We were connecting cylinders and different relays and switches and limit switches, all to a hydraulic pump circuit. And at the end of that course, we had a practical exam, and it was literally 16 pages of stuff that we were supposed to do by ourselves – different set-ups that we were supposed to connect and run: connect it so that it ran the motor forward, ran in reverse, operated a cylinder and when a cylinder reached one of the limit switches, it was going to turn something else on. Plus working with different valves. That was definitely – I was thinking, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this.” But when it came time to actually do the test, I did it, and I did it correctly! That was definitely meaningful. Q: YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT SPECIALIZING IN SOLAR POWER. WHAT’S DRAWING YOU TO THAT FIELD? A: That honestly is my first choice. The solar industry is just growing so fast – and the thing is, it’s not just those huge bulky solar panels that are such an eyesore. Even Tesla now is making a “solar roof,” with solar panels that are shingles. Then there are the tiny solar circuits that can that charge your phone, say when people go camping. The possibilities, I think, are endless. Q: YOU’RE GOING INTO A FIELD WHERE WORKERS ARE IN VERY HIGH DEMAND. A: Yes, but I’m not going into it because it’s growing. For me, it’s more like I’m glad I’m going into this because I want to be a part of helping it grow. I just know there is so much potential for renewable energy in everyday life. I think that when people really start to educate themselves and understand that, they’ll know this is a smart choice, and that we should be doing everything we can to make it more affordable. Q: YOU CLIMBED BISMARCK STATE’S WIND-TURBINE TRAINING TOWER AS PART OF YOUR TRAINING, TOO. HOW DID THAT GO? A: It was such a great thing, I’m so glad that BSC has these ways for us to practice climbing. The class was mostly for the instructor to teach us how to “safe climb.” We were set up with harnesses and different carabiners and rope systems and pulleys. It’s all set up to allow you to safely climb or to help someone else who’s stuck. So, we got to go outside and climb on top of the BSC wind turbine simulator, then practice descending off of what would be the nose cone of a wind turbine. And practice helping each other down if someone had been stuck. Q: HOW DO YOU DESCEND? A: You’re basically up on top, and there are different anchor points that we hook our carabiners to, and we descend. So, it’s not like there’s a ladder; instead, you are slowly releasing yourself down to the ground, using something called a “fall arrest device.” And there is, like, nothing around you. I thought it was just the coolest experience ever, that we got to do this in school. Q: YOU WEREN’T SCARED? A: I’ve done a little rock climbing, so I thought it was very exciting.
Published by Prairie Business Magazine c/o Forum. View All Articles.