Craft Academy graduates spend summer as Kentucky Power interns
Craft Academy graduates and interns Nick Kessinger, left, and Ethan Coleman, right, present their mobile alerts plan to Kentucky Power.

ASHLAND, Ky. – Kentucky Power summer internships give recent high school graduates work experience and allows Kentucky Power to show newcomers what goes into effectively operating an electric utility.

Nick Kessinger of Louisa and Ethan Coleman of Phelps, 2017 graduates of Morehead State University’s Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, joined Kentucky Power in June as summer interns. Kessinger was assigned to the Ashland service center and Coleman at the Pikeville service center.

While Kentucky Power has had interns in the past, most were already college students who were well into their college studies. Coleman and Kessinger, however, are recent high school graduates and the first Craft Academy graduates to intern at Kentucky Power. The Craft Academy is a dual-credit program for academically exceptional Kentucky students. The program allows high school juniors and seniors to finish school while also completing up to two years of university coursework. The Craft Academy provides tuition, housing and meal plans at no cost to select students and allows them to live on campus for the fall and spring semesters of their final two years of high school.

“We so appreciate the opportunity to involve Craft Academy students in internships,” said Craft Academy Director Carol Christian. “We hope to expand our internships and we hope to continue with Kentucky Power in this collaborative partnership.”

Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite said he wanted to show Kentucky Power’s support of education and encourage young people in eastern Kentucky like Kessinger and Coleman to build upon their experience at the Craft Academy and pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“There is an urgent need across the country and here in eastern Kentucky to increase student achievement and interest in STEM fields because they play an increasingly critical role in ensuring our collective economic growth,” Satterwhite said. “As a community partner and president of a business that depends upon employees with a good understanding of math and science, I want Kentucky Power to encourage students in this area. Our internships can help do that.”

One of the interns’ final projects uses technology to reach customers. They are the writers, producers and directors of a Facebook video contest that offers customers who sign up for Kentucky Power’s mobile alerts the chance to win a free Yeti cooler or one of three Yeti tumblers. The video, which features a dog, will launch soon on Kentucky Power’s Facebook page.

“I found the video experience to be very educating,” Kessinger said. “Working with the mindset that this would be used as a marketing tool changed the planning process for the video production. We had to be mindful of what would be the best way to catch customer’s attention and we found using a popular trend called Yeti Pup would be the best way.”

Since beginning with Kentucky Power, Kessinger has worked not only on the marketing contest, but also closely with meter revenue operators performing circuit inspections, engineering technicians for pole inspections and district engineers retrieving load loggers. A recent graduate of Lawrence County High School and Craft Academy, Kessinger is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but he also is interested in electrical engineering. While attending Craft, Kessinger was able to complete 70 hours of university coursework that can be applied to his degree.

“I think the Craft Academy was very beneficial,” Kessinger said. “The environment where you’re interacting with college students and being in college classrooms, it’s a big maturing stage.”

Coleman, a recent graduate of Phelps High School and Craft Academy, studied Government/International Studies at Craft, where he was able to complete 56 hours of college-level coursework.

“I took mostly general education courses,” Coleman said. “But I also received a healthy dose of physics, mathematics and engineering courses that were requirements to graduate from the Craft Academy.”

Coleman has been busy applying this knowledge since starting his internship with Kentucky Power. He has worked closely with economic development, regulatory, district engineers and the meter revenue operators. He recounts the first economic development meeting he attended in Hazard with Jacob Colley, Kentucky Power external affairs manager, and Dave Tatman, director of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association.

“I was grateful to meet those involved in the economic development of the region,” Coleman said. “It has allowed me to see the inner workings of a power company and made me aware that it’s more complex than I previously thought.”

Kessinger said his first trip to the field was with Dale Chatterton, Ashland District manager, to retrieve load loggers that had previously been installed on lines and then analyzed the data.

“As I laced up my steel-toed boots and put on my gloves, reflective vest, safety glasses and hard hat, I started to get nervous,” Kessinger said. “Working with live lines for the first time will do that.

“I really value my experience with Kentucky Power,” Kessinger said. “I’ve been around several people that are close to the retirement age, and to know that Kentucky Power treats their employees well enough that a lot of them work here their entire careers shows me that this is a great company.”

Kessinger and Coleman are both enrolled at Morehead State University this fall as full-time juniors after earning enough college credits at Craft Academy.

“The Craft Academy produces well educated and highly capable students,” Satterwhite said. “I welcome the opportunity to work with other interns like Nick and Ethan at Kentucky Power in the future.”

Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, Ky., provides service to about 168,000 customers in all or part of 20 eastern Kentucky counties, including Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Rowan. Kentucky Power is an operating company in the AEP system, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system. AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.

Craft Academy graduates and interns Nick Kessinger, left, and Ethan Coleman, right, present their mobile alerts plan to Kentucky Power.

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