Twenty-two-year-old Greg Schmidt recently graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. He credits much of this accomplishment to four paid oil and gas internships and financial as well as academic support from the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. Greg’s path through the ANSEP pipeline began when he was a senior in high school and participated in a computer build – a hands-on activity now incorporated into every ANSEP Middle School Academy. With his curiosity about engineering already brewing, Greg says the computer build solidified his interest in electrical engineering and skyrocketed him toward becoming an engineer for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.
“I liked that the build was led by University Success students who were already going through the engineering program – the ones who helped me were actually electrical engineering students. It was such a cool and different way to learn about school and how it relates to building a computer. The experience really set the tone for what my future at ANSEP would be like,” Greg said.
After the computer build, Greg immediately applied for ANSEP Summer Bridge, a 10-week component that gives high school graduates the opportunity to live on the UAA campus while completing a college math course as well as a paid internship in a career field of their interest. Growing up in Wasilla, Alaska, Greg said he couldn’t believe he would have the opportunity to intern with an oil and gas company and knock out one of his college courses before he entered the university. According to Greg, taking college-level classes wasn’t an option for him in high school, despite his interest to do so.
“I was shocked to hear about other students who were earning college credits in high school because of ANSEP. Even though I didn’t have that much of a head start, it was super cool to get Calculus credits with Summer Bridge before I started at UAA,” Greg said. “I continued with University Success throughout college, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity. My friends helped me stay on track and prepare for tests, and ANSEP made sure I had support financially. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to just be able to focus on studies and not worry about how I was going to pay for things.”
Not only did Greg graduate with his degree in four years, he says he felt 100 percent prepared after college to begin his career as an electrical engineer. After spending the last three consecutive summers interning at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. as an ANSEP student, Greg has officially joined the team alongside 26 other ANSEP alumni at Alyeska, providing essential maintenance to 800 miles of pipe through the Last Frontier.
“The internships helped me develop professionally and learn what to expect in the workplace,” Greg said. “That’s one of the coolest things about ANSEP – the opportunity to take classroom learning and apply it to the real world. Today, it’s so important for young kids to learn the importance of education and applying yourself toward whatever field or direction you want to go in your career, and that’s where ANSEP helps.”
There are many students like Greg who do not have access to advanced curriculum in high school, and there are a great deal of others who take and pass advanced high-school courses but then arrive at the university underprepared. In fact, earlier this month, ANSEP, in conjunction with the University of Alaska and the State Department of Education and Early Development, released a transcript study that shows that more than 60 percent of Alaska students needed remedial coursework once they arrived at University of Alaska. ANSEP, University of Alaska and Alaska State Department of Education and Early Development will be partnering to change this trend. Read more about this issue here: ANSEP.net/TranscriptStudy.