Mark Jaros was no stranger to electronics when he first enrolled at Ecotech Institute. For more than eight years, he ran his own home automation systems company. Then he heard the call of renewable energy. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering technology in 2014, and started working for DeWind, a wind energy company, as a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) wind technician.
Now Mark is focusing solely on his education again and is working on a second degree – this time in solar energy – to make the switch to large-scale solar energy projects.
In a recent conversation, Mark talked about why he decided to change career paths and his experience as an electrical engineering technician.
Why did you decide to pursue the electrical engineering technician program in the first place?
When I was in high school, I always wanted a degree in electrical engineering. I was the kid going to Radio Shack and buying transistors and resistors to build projects and taking things apart. I enrolled as a solar energy student, but I was immediately drawn to the electrical engineering technology program once I started at Ecotech Institute. I also saw the types of jobs that graduates were getting, and I realized it was more in line with what I wanted to do.
Was the renewable energy aspect a draw for you?
What drew me to renewable energy was the technology. It's very new and exciting. It's cutting edge. You're doing something that not many people do. It is a unique club to be a part of, for sure. I love telling people what I do for a living.
What did your job at DeWind entail?
My responsibility was the control and monitoring of 100 wind turbines all over the world. When a turbine would fault out, it was my job to get it running again. I had to start the troubleshooting process, and diagnose why that turbine stopped – whether it was for an oil leakage, an electrical problem or a software problem. Some issues I was able to repair or reset from my position. If it was something that could not be repaired remotely, then I would dispatch a technician to fix the problem, or sometimes I would go out into the field to handle the repair myself.
What traits and skills make for a good candidate in the type of work that you do?
I think the type of person that would flourish in this field is someone who's a mathematical thinker and is very precise. Engineering is kind of an all-or-nothing profession.
You have to do it right the first time, so it takes someone who has an attention to detail. You also have to be a person who likes to build things and take things apart. And, the sort of person who can look at something and pretty much understand how it works, or if you don't, you can figure it out pretty quickly.
What advice would you give to someone considering going into your field?
Get to know the people you're sitting next to in class. The people that you graduate with are going to be the most important contacts you have; networking begins at school.
As for students who are deciding where to go to school, if it's about finding a job, then Ecotech Institute is a great place to go. The energy industry will always have a need for qualified, well-trained professionals.
You also have to have an open mind about where the industry is going. You should pursue it knowing that you're going to be a part of an industry that is growing leaps and bounds in the next few years. There's constantly going to be new technology. The most successful students who graduate are the ones who understand they are going to be part of a bigger picture, and more importantly, they want to be a part of it.