ECU Students Recognized by NC Electric Co-ops - Carolina Country

ECU Students Recognized by NC Electric Co-ops

Scholarship and internship programs cultivate future engineers

ECU Students Recognized by NC Electric Co-ops

Austin Parker (right) at an ECU scholarship awards ceremony with Dr. Harry Ploehn, ECU dean of the College of Engineering and Technology

East Carolina University (ECU) students Austin Parker and Timothy Umphlett, Jr., were recently recognized as recipients of the 2017 North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Electrical Engineering Endowed Scholarship.

“I wanted to thank North Carolina’s electric cooperatives for awarding me the engineering scholarship through the ECU College of Engineering and Technology,” Parker said. “I am a junior studying electrical engineering, and this contribution to my education is appreciated!”

In 2013, the ECU College of Engineering and Technology worked with North Carolina’s electric cooperatives to develop the scholarship program. Six scholarships have been awarded since 2014.

Through an associated ECU internship program, students have the opportunity to work in the field with nearby participating electric cooperatives. Five students have participated in the internship program since it was launched in 2014. Ethan Thomas was the first intern through the program, working with Tarboro-based Edgecombe-Martin County EMC during the summer of 2014, which led to his current position as a system engineer with the cooperative. Edgecombe-Martin County EMC CEO Winston Howell, who earned BSBA and MBA degrees from ECU, currently serves as a member of the ECU Engineering Advisory Board.

“As an intern, I was able to experience many different things, including SCADA installation, light table analysis and developing spreadsheets to increase the efficiency of employees,” Thomas said.

“In North Carolina, the demand for engineers is growing among employers in the state,” said North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Director of Transmission Resources John Lemire, who helps facilitate the internship program. “We strive to find and mentor electrical engineering students who desire to work in the electric utility industry upon graduation. An understanding of the cooperative business model and principles is valuable whether they go on to work for a co-op or elsewhere in the electric utility industry.”

Visit ECU's Department of Engineering online for information on the scholarship program. Those interested in the internship program can contact Lauren Liles at

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