Expo Introduces Career Possibilities

Some students watched in amazement; others were nervous or even a bit fearful as a robotic dog moved around the building.

The students participated in the 2023 Pathways2Possibilities West Tennessee Eighth Grade Career Expo.

The robot, named Spot, is a replica of a robot that can be sent into many different environments—such as a coal mine, nuclear power plant or an area of downed power lines—to assess dangers, explained Erin Smith, who handles purchasing at Ripley Power and Light.

Spot, on loan from Tennessee Valley Authority, was one of several attractions Ripley Power and Light Company offered at its booth at the career expo.

The purpose of the annual expo is to introduce the eighth graders to possible careers after graduating high school.

“We want to spark their interest at an early age,” Erin said. “We want the students to know they have options after graduation.”

Businesses, health care organizations and other groups set up booths in a warehouse owned by Ripley Power and Light. Thousands of eighth graders from across West Tennessee, who attended the two-day event in March, encountered interactive activities designed to promote awareness of the link between their education choices and their future employment.

Besides introducing Spot’s capabilities to the students, Ripley Power and Light offered safety demonstrations from a live line electric system on a flatbed trailer.

Students were amazed at the power of electricity as they watched a blue electric arc created when an aluminum ladder touched an energized power line.

Erin said another attraction borrowed from TVA was bicycles that generated power as the students pedaled. When an LED turned green, the bicycle rider generated enough power to charge a cellphone.

“Our employees did a great job helping with the booth,” she said. “It was a great experience for both sides.”