Chelan PUD’s Jim White earns statewide award
Around the office, we think of engineer Jim White as something of a wizard. Now the state has recognized him as a science champion.
White, an indefatigable advocate for solar power and renewable energy, received the Science Education Advocate Award from the state LASER program — Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform. The award recognizes outstanding individuals who have exhibited exceptional support and advocacy for science education in Washington.
White, a senior energy conservation engineer, has been with Chelan PUD for 15 years. He developed the PUD’s Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program which led the way for small-scale solar installations in the state. He conceived and built a zero-energy trailer used to demonstrate renewable energy and energy efficiency at public events; the trailer is now used by instructors at Shoreline College.
White built a solar go-kart in his garage which was test-driven by his own children before White used it to visit fourth-grade classrooms as a fun teaching aid. He helped Wenatchee High School students build and race a real solar dragster, and last year led students at Cashmere Middle School in a project to build and race Barbie-doll-size solar cars. He helped a friend, Marcelo da Luz, drive the Xof1 solar car over the longest ice road in the world to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, where the car was used to teach native school children about renewable energy.
He is a sought-after presenter at Earth Day celebrations and school science fairs. When he’s not busy with renewable energy, he’s busy as a Boy Scout leader and volunteer at numerous community projects.
“My hope is that science education in Washington will teach us all how to survive and thrive, without destroying the natural beauty that surrounds us,” White said. When working with children, his goal has always been to make science fun.
To that end, White built a solar popcorn popper and a solar-operated splash fountain. What kid can resist a chance to splash in a fountain on a warm summer day?
The award is given annually to individuals, organizations or projects that show enthusiastic support for science education. Four individuals and one organization received awards this year.
Each received $5,000, to be awarded to the not-for-profit public education entity of their choice. White designated his award for the North Central Educational Service District to buy about 150 reusable solar car kits for classrooms.
The reward and recognition program are funded by Boeing.
LASER is a public/private partnership launched in 1999. The Washington State LASER partnership is led by the Strategic Programs Division of Pacific Science Center in Seattle and the Office of Science & Engineering Education at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
White talks about the importance of science education on the LASER website here.