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From Theory to Reality: Visit to NREL Heightens Student's Desire to Become an Engineer

November 21, 2013 - 3:21pm


Hello, my name is Jeremy Laselute. I am 22 years old, a Zuni Pueblo Indian, and live on the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico. I am a student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, majoring in electrical engineering technology (EET) with a minor in renewable energy technology. With an EET degree I want to help my community by incorporating renewable energy technology so power will be distributed to every home, business, or school at an affordable cost to both my community and the electrical company.

Growing up in a small community and attending small schools, I was accustomed to a simple life on a reservation. I never imagined myself going far from the state of New Mexico, which made my trip to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) more amazing than I could have ever imagined. I would like to thank the sponsors, Darrell Tsabetsaye, Project Director for the Pueblo of Zuni Tribal Renewable Energy Office; Royce Stewart of Red Mountain Energy Partners; and Shaun Tsabetsaye, Engineering Consultant from Zuni. If it were not for the support of these amazing individuals, I would not have been able to experience such an extraordinary adventure. 

Our tour of the facility began when we were met by Principal Engineer Otto Van Geet and Technical Project Leader Colton Heaps, who are working with the DOE Office of Indian Energy to provide my Tribe with technical assistance for a renewable energy project through the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team Program. They led us on one of the most interesting tours I have ever been on. As we progressed through the facility, my mind began connecting the theories I have learned from my studies to the real-life application of the technology.

With the help of Otto, I was able to express my understanding of the devices and become more informed on how each of them has a purpose. By the end of the tour I had not only confirmed my knowledge of renewable energy technology but the preparation that goes along with it. The amazing technological advancement I experienced at the facility was beyond what I had imagined. I knew renewable energy technology was the right field for me to go into, to make an impact on our world and my community. Visiting the NREL facility not only heightened my desire to become an engineer, but also to see my goals come to fruition.

Again, I would like to thank the sponsors who gave me the opportunity to experience something incredible and life-changing and for making our trip to the facility more than just a tour.