STEP in the right direction

  • Published
  • By Steven J. Merrill
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
As a young boy growing up on his family's farm in southwest Oklahoma, James Kliewer never imagined that one day he would be playing a major role in a multi-million dollar project designed to make facilities at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. more efficient.

Mr. Kliewer, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering technician, is helping oversee one of nine activities included in a $7.2 million dollar energy conservation package to upgrade and modernize base facilities.

"It's an amazing project involving building 88532, home of the 28th CES Readiness Flight and test bed for this type of endeavor," Mr. Kliewer said. "We're removing the old, inefficient boiler and heating system in the building, installing highly efficient infrared heat and de-stratification fans in the bay area, a heat pump to heat the office area, an array of photovoltaic solar panels to offset part of the electrical use of the building, and solar water heating to heat the water used in the building."

Mr. Kliewer said he is proud and thankful to have the opportunity to be part of the project, an opportunity made possible thanks to the Student Temporary Employment Program.

STEP is a flexible, one-year program with pay for high school and college students who are either enrolled or accepted for enrollment as degree-seeking students. The work, which does not have to be related to the student's academic or career goals, benefits both agencies and students. Agencies benefit in that they can discover firsthand the abilities of a potential employee.

According to Office of Personnel Management guidelines, STEP job appointments can last up to one year, and extensions in one-year increments are possible. Employing agencies, at their discretion, may establish academic and job performance standards that students must meet to continue in the program.

Mr. Kliewer is one of four STEP students working in the 28th CES Asset Management Flight. Other STEP students include:
  • Jonathan Rexroad, who assists and helps coordinate the base's $7.2 million Utility Energy Service Contract with Montana Dakota Utilities Company and excels at scheduling work and accomplishing milestones for complex projects.
  • Darren Scott, an industrial systems specialist who is working to develop energy conservation upgrades for flightline support systems programmed for fiscal year 2013.
  • Clinton Foster, a utility systems leakage and loss expert who has identified of a number of longstanding waterline leaks, and has been instrumental in predicting potential problem areas.
All four students have a primary duty involving the payment and certification of Ellsworth's utility bills and collectively handle more than 30 utility contracts for Ellsworth and its associated tenants.

"There are tremendous benefits to hiring students like James, Jon, Darren and Clinton," said Dell Peterson, 28th CES energy manager. "They get some fantastic work experience and earn a salary for their work, and we have the opportunity to develop our next generation of engineering employees. It's another way of investing in our future."

Mr. Kliewer encouraged students to consider participating in the program that has given him great work experience and much more.

"STEP has given me a much better understanding of not only the work being done by the Air Force, but of the Air Force itself," he said. "It has allowed me to see how the Air Force sets goals and standards that will move it toward reducing energy and becoming self-sustaining. If given the opportunity, take advantage of this great program.

Individuals interested in learning more about STEP opportunities can call the OPM Career America Connection at (912) 757-3000.