• Tunisian engineering student interning at La Plata Electric Association

    Exchange student Rihab Ammar spending two semesters at Fort Lewis College

    Rihab Ammar, exchange studentRihab Ammar, a Fort Lewis College exchange student from Tunisia, has joined LPEA as an intern as she completes her degree in engineering.

    Fluent in Arabic, French, English and Spanish, Ammar was chosen for a full IREX scholarship to attend Fort Lewis College. As part of the scholarship requirements, she must have an internship in her academic field of choice, which in Tunisia is “power and energy.”

    “So La Plata Electric is the ultimate as a choice for me,” said Ammar, who is currently working in the Rates, Technology and Energy Policy Department at the cooperative.

    “We’re thrilled to have Rihab working with us, and she’s fully engaged in serving our members,” said Dan Harms, LPEA manager of rates, technology and energy policy. “She’s bright, inquisitive and eager to learn all that she can about electrical engineering, and we’re honored to be a part of her education.”

    Ammar attends the National Engineering School of Monastir, an institution that required rigorous examination prior to her acceptance. Early on she excelled in mathematics, physics and biology, which might have propelled her into medicine, but instead she embraced her fascination with electrical engineering.

    A student leader prior to coming to Fort Lewis, Ammar was part of the ENIMTEAM, which designed and built an energy efficient vehicle that competed in the Shell Eco-Marathon in London last summer. She served as treasurer for the IEEE ENIM SB: Power and Energy Society and assisted in coordinating an international Master’s Degree program in renewable energy with the National Engineering School of Monastir and the University of Kasel in Germany.

    “In classes we mainly get the theoretic, and now here I’m trying to apply what I have learned to discover the professional aspect of being an engineer,” said Ammar.    

    Ammar will intern at LPEA through the end of the Fort Lewis spring semester, at which time she hopes all credits transfer and she can graduate from the engineering college in Tunisia.

    “I’m really grateful that they chose Durango,” said Ammar of the IREX process of selecting schools to suit the students. “I’m in love with this place and the community.”

    IREX, the International Research & Exchanges Board, was established in 1968 by leading universities to foster the exchange of scholars, teachers, students and ideas. Prior to joining FLC as Director of Admissions, Andy Burns had worked with IREX and the US State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) division on student exchange programs. According to Burns, over the past few years, both IREX and ECA have expanded services and exchange opportunities for students from key geopolitical regions of the world such as the Middle East, North Africa, and South/Central Asia.

    “After speaking to IREX representatives, and securing FLC Cabinet support, I submitted a host application for the North Africa program, and fortunately, we were selected as a host,” said Burns, noting that Ammar is an impressive young woman. “We are so fortunate to have someone of her caliber on our campus this year.” 

    “All of this is thanks to Mom and Dad,” Ammar said. “They have been encouraging me all the way. They haven’t been making the choices for me, but they have always believed in my choices.”

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with nearly 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For further information visit www.lpea.coop.