Following in your parents’ footsteps in Chesterfield these days looks a lot different compared to a generation ago.
For Matoaca High School graduate Nick Skoff, it means pursuing a career in electrical engineering, a field in which both his parents work. Skoff always knew he was mechanically-inclined. As a child, he wanted to know how his computer worked, and he was drawn to Lego bricks and toys that taught him the basics of engineering.
“I had a little robotics set where you could build something and program it, and that’s where I got my first interest in electricity and what you can do with it,” the Chesterfield native explained.
His interest was furthered by the education he received from Chesterfield County Public Schools and John Tyler Community College. He found his Advanced Placement classes at Matoaca High School were on par with, if not harder than, the classes of his freshman year of college, and he says having a father who could help on homework questions, even in the advanced high school calculus and physics classes, made it easier for him to get through the material. Plus, his community college physics class helped him define his future education plans.
“Taking physics through JTCC was a big influence on me. Once I learned all the equations and electricity stuff, I was much, much more interested in that and it steered me in that direction,” said Skoff.
Now a rising junior at Virginia Tech majoring in electrical engineering, Skoff has just completed a summer internship at Dominion Energy, where he is already helping increase efficiency and saving precious man-hours.
“It just cuts down on time when working on projects. Instead of spending two hours trying to do an arc flash calculation you can just press a button and run it right there,” said Skoff. “It really relates to safety. The faster we can get that done and make sure that it’s accurate, the faster workers can get out in the field, make sure they’re wearing the appropriate protective equipment and restore power to the customer.”
He’s hoping to land a job in the energy industry after graduation, and he feels he has plenty of high-tech job options in Virginia.
“Oh, definitely. There’s always the utility company aspect with Dominion and so many different kinds of engineering jobs,” Skoff said. “Lots of tech-based companies, especially in Northern
Virginia, have opened up positions and have availability for those types of technological jobs.”
While growing up with engineering parents was influential, Skoff says others looking to enter the field should take advantage of every opportunity to learn inside and outside the classroom.
“I would definitely say take your classes as seriously as possible and not just brush them off, especially if it’s your senior year of high school and you’re ready to be out and done with it,” Skoff said. “The internship is also a great experience to be out in the industry and see the real-life application of everything you’re learning in school.”