McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Program

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Putting the 'Power' in 'Empowerment'

June 15, 2017

Down a gritty, darkened alley off Elgin Street in Hamilton's inner city sits one of the greatest engineering achievements of Adam Kappheim (Energy Engineering Technologies '12, B. Tech) - a community-empowering weather station.

A few years ago, the locals called the alley Listerine Alley, home of empty liquor bottles and spent needles, and shadows few dared to explore. These days, it's been reinvented as Gallery Alley, a showpiece for homegrown urban renewal. And the weather station, which will be launched this year, is a key part of that.

He has other achievements, of course. He's a Distribution Engineer at Guelph Hydroelectric Systems Inc., a place where he's carved out a reputable career in the energy industry. He's even enrolled in McMaster's Master of Business Administration program, which he hopes to finish in 2019.

But the weather station, he says, is a highlight. Kappheim volunteers with the Beasley Neighbourhood Association, and is developing the station with two McMaster University engineering students and another alumnus. It's about the size of a car, he says, and will double as industrial-themed art. Most importantly, it will post online weather and air quality results.

"Local weather - going beyond just the concept of rain and heat - really does impact the quality of life for the residents," he says. "We wanted to create a touch point for them to get to understand the local environment."

It's just the latest project for Kappheim, who has used his degree to carve out a flourishing career of energy and volunteerism.

Kappheim knew all the way back to childhood that he wanted to work with electricity, but he wasn't sure what form that would take. He began his post-secondary education in Mohawk College's Business Administration program, but after a year and a half, switched to the Electrical Engineering Technology program. He did his co-op placement at Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc., and at the end of it, they hired him as an Engineering Technologist.

Kappheim didn't rest long. He immediately enrolled in McMaster's Bachelor of Technology Degree Completion Program, he says, and took night courses over three years. He averaged three courses per semester, "a little more than they recommend" to someone who is working full time. But he pulled through, and graduated in 2012.

That same year, he was promoted to Asset Management and Planning Supervisor. In December, he got another promotion, this time to Distribution Engineer.

Kappheim says he's still fascinated by electricity.

“The most interesting thing about electricity is not a lot of people truly understand it,” he says. “It's invisible. You can't really touch it, or smell it, or see it, but it does so much for us in the world.”

Kappheim still credits his McMaster instructors for his success. They had recent hands-on experience in the field, he says, and took a personal interest in him, especially Dr. Chi Tang, Program Chair for the Power and Energy Engineering Technology stream (formerly named Energy Engineering Technology).

Kappheim is determined to pass the inspiration on to others now. He has also helped develop BLINK (the Beasley Lab for INventive Kids), a lab program that teaches kids at Beasley's Dr. Davey Elementary School engineering-related lessons. The students learn about subjects such as microcontrollers and algorhythms. About 20 kids attended the last set of sessions, and attendance is voluntary. So Kappheim takes that as a good sign.

He wants every child with an interest in engineering to have a chance to explore it, he says.

“If you don't take (these subjects) out to them,” he says, “then how will they know they exist?”

 

Media Contact:
Valerie Hillman, Recruiting and Promotion Coordinator, McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Program
905-525-9140 ext. 21644