When Wheatland Electric’s professional engineer, Brandon Barrett, was a high school student, he had a lot of interests – accounting, science, and business to name a few.
So, picking out a major after graduating from Garden City High School in 2007 wasn’t that easy.
After choosing Kansas State University as the next step in his educational journey, Barrett decided engineering school would be a good option since math and science were subjects he enjoyed.
“One of the hardest questions I had to answer when trying to decide if I wanted to become an engineer was finding out, what does an engineer really do?” he said. “It’s often very vague because engineers do a lot of different things, even across (electric) utilities.”
The electrical engineer who once interned at our cooperative as a young student was recently promoted to Manager of Engineering. He now has an answer to his own question.
“The best answer is that engineers go to school to solve problems,” Barrett said. “It’s about being flexible and wanting to research problems and take on problems you’ve not seen before but are trained to solve. Sometimes, it’s a mix of art and science – there’s not always just one answer.”
This week (February 21–27, 2021) is National Engineers Week, dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers, according to the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Before Barrett was hired on as a full-time electrical engineer, he joined Wheatland as an intern in 2009, the summer after his sophomore year of college. A student of mechanical engineering at the time, the internship allowed him to gain real-world experience in areas like mapping and geographic information systems, electric metering, and more. It also solidified his career path moving forward.
“I really enjoyed it and came back every summer after that until I graduated,” he said. “Coming here allowed me to find out that the electrical side of engineering was more of my interest.”
Today, having recently gained his professional engineering license, Barrett not only oversees multiple employees and projects, he also reviews and seals various documents related to line design, construction work plans, and environmental and financial compliance.
“Some of the things I really enjoy about working at Wheatland is that I get to see a lot of different aspects – I get to be involved in protection, system studies, substation design, the troubleshooting side, and a lot more,” he added.
Barrett also enjoys analyzing data when and where his job entails and is heavily involved with our cooperative’s metering systems, too.
“I can pull out metering data and see what system trends are going on,” Barrett said. “This helps us plan out the future so we can be ready for future growth and keep costs low for our members.”
Barrett recommends that young people interested in math and science consider a career in engineering for a lot of reasons, most of all because of the versatility it provides.
“The work is never mundane – you never get bored. That’s the best part to me,” he said. “Engineering school was the hardest part, and it is very challenging. But, if you stick through that, you’re ready for anything.”