Gary Bird

Engineering Technician Valley Electric Association (NRECA and NWPPA Member)

Gary Bird has worked for Valley Electric Association for 18 years in a couple of different positions. About four and half years ago, he transferred from the operations department where he was a Journeyman Lineman to his current position as an Engineering Technician. In his current position, Gary is responsible for designing both overhead and underground lines utilizing Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and all of the activities related to design, such as contacting consumers and acquiring the necessary permits.

Gary was completing a staking certification through the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) when he learned about the online EPCE-sponsored Electric Power Technology (ELPW) degree program at Bismarck State College through a co-worker, who was also a graduate of the ELPW program. “My company has a tuition reimbursement program, and I felt the degree would be beneficial to my current position,” Gary said. He also noted that, “we have a great Human Resources department here, and they have been supportive of my pursuit of additional education.”

When asked if Gary would recommend the online program to others, his response was an enthusiastic, “Oh, absolutely!” He added, “It is a great introduction to the industry. A great benefit of the program is that students can choose their area of specialization their last semester. I focused on System Design because that is where I’m at, but for Substation Technicians, the Substation specialization would be great for them.”

After earning his Associate’s degree, Gary decided to continue on to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Through his company’s affiliation with EPCE, he learned about the online Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering Technology (BSEET) through Excelsior College, and is currently in his second semester of classes. He decided to pursue this degree to help him take the next step in his career: “Once I earn my BSEET degree, I will qualify to become a System Engineer with the company.”