SACRAMENTO, Calif. — SMUD is looking to recruit local high school and college students to become engineers.

A spokesperson for the company says a generation of engineers are getting ready to retire and they want to locally hire their replacements. However, the problem is there is currently a shortage of people with the technical skills and academic background to fill that gap. 

So, what's the plan? According to Jacobe Caditz, a SMUD projects manager, it all starts by teaching students to build small gadgets in their classroom and inspiring them to pursue career paths in STEM fields. That's why the company is increasing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] training and events for high school and college students in the community.

This weekend, dozens of high school and college students are hitting the water to race their self-designed solar-powered boats at Rancho Seco Park. The event is a competition between 21 teams of high school students, as well as 17 teams of college students, who have designed and built 38 solar-powered boats. The goal, Caditz said, is to scout students, offer them internships and eventually hire them. 

“We are getting them a little bit ahead of the game and also getting them familiar with SMUD so when they go off and complete, they're going to come back to the Sacramento region to help lift the entire region and SMUD,” Caditz added.

Two students who participated in the Solar Regatta last year were offered an internship and later hired by SMUD. The company offers 80 summer internships for local students every year, some are ever paid. Caditz says 25 percent of last year's interns are now working with the company.

The California Solar Regatta is open to the public with racing slated for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, with lunch breaks from noon to 1:00 p.m.

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