A group of high school girls recently visited EPB’s Solar Share. (Photo: Staff)

Eleven area students recently toured a local solar farm as part of a program aimed at beefing up STEM skills for high school girls.

The tour of 4,048 solar panels at the EPB and TVA Solar Share field was part of TVA’s third annual STEM Summer Enrichment Program.

The tour was one of 16 parts of the program, and the girls will continue to learn a wide variety of skills, such as site surveying and project management as well as interview skills and proper workplace etiquette.

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The two-week program provides an opportunity for young women to participate in many activities directly related to the STEM field.

“We get lots of hands-on experience like we programmed a few robots and saw what they would do, and we got to do AutoCAD, a software engineers use in the real world,” Center for Creative Arts 10th grader  Thrisha Mote said. “That’s something most girls this age never have.”

All of the girls must meet certain criteria, provide two recommendation letters, and go through an extensive interview process before being chosen to take part in the program.

TVA partners with a number of schools in the area, including Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences and Notre Dame. 

“The purpose of our program is to give the girls some hands-on interaction with using the skills and knowledge that they have learned in school in a professional environment,” TVA Principal Engineer in Bulk Transmission Planning Ashley Commander said. 

For Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy freshman Avery Love the experience has been valuable. 

“I have never done a camp like this,” she said. “When I first saw that it was free and we would be doing so many activities, I was blown away because I have really never had an opportunity like this in this area.”

EPB partnered with TVA in 2017 to establish a solar facility along Holtzclaw Avenue across from Warner Park.

The project is an effort to make renewable energy more easily accessible to all its customers.

The facility’s 4,000-plus solar panels can generate up to 1.3 megawatts of power, which is enough energy to meet the average needs of 130 homes.

Logan Garrett is a contributing writer. He currently attends UTC where he is the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The University Echo. He is a communication major with a psychology and Spanish double minor. Logan is also an associate editor for UReCA, an undergraduate research publication journal. You can reach him at [email protected] or on twitter @LoganGarrett__.

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