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UW-Platteville students get utility design experience with ATC

University of Wisconsin-Platteville students, left to right, Jacob Scholbe, Jason Gross, Nicholas Rankin, Elliot Carlovsky and Alex Goff, completed an engineering design project with ATC this spring.

During the spring semester of 2018, American Transmission Co. teamed up with students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to complete a challenging design engineering project.

The engineering students were asked to design the site and foundation for an existing ATC substation. To mimic a real ATC project, students were given design criteria to complete, including site design layout, storm water management, erosion control, structure and foundation design.

“The project complimented my studies in that it enforced my ability to apply what we learned in our classes,” said Nick Rankin, a UW-Platteville engineering student who completed the project. “From referencing manuals of practice to applying our knowledge of software, this project encompassed every skill we learned. It gave us insight into how actual site design works. Being exposed to drawings that we were given on day one and the design work we completed as students will ready us for much bigger things when we break into real-world applications.”

“The students did an excellent job with the project and came close to the site layout that ATC actually built. They exceeded our expectations in many ways,” said Travis Oates, ATC team leader of civil design engineering.

Oates led the project on behalf of ATC with help from Jim Zhong, senior transmission line engineer; Brian Penny, consultant substation services engineer; Cris Kramschuster, senior substation services engineer; Mike Londo, consultant transmission reliability administrator; Jay Johannes, senior substation engineer; Tam Vo, team leader of design engineering; and Curtis Roe, senior planning compliance engineer.

Along with opportunities for employees to mentor future engineers, the project gave the students a window into the electric transmission industry. Students also visited an ATC operations facility and a substation during the project.

“We got exposure to the university to promote ATC as an employer. If these students go on to work for other agencies such as the Department of Transportation, municipalities, developers, etc., they will come across utilities in their projects. With this experience, they now understand the impacts and will take them into consideration,” Oates said.

ATC is proud to provide real-world opportunities to students and build knowledge of our industry in the community. Along with support for projects like this one, we regularly hire interns in many departments to share our expertise and learn from new perspectives.

Learn more about ATC, our internships and careers.

ATC introduces new Pollinator Planting Program, continues funding for Community Planting Program

Applicants can now request funding for pollinator-specific projects

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – To help make communities greener, American Transmission Co. is introducing a new Pollinator Planting Program, in addition to its Community Planting Program. ATC will begin accepting applications for both planting programs beginning June 1.

Pollinator Planting Program

The Pollinator Planting Program provides funding for the purchase of seeds, plugs or plants that are low-growing, native perennials that can be planted within a transmission line right-of-way. “The decline in pollinator populations is due in part to loss of habitat,” said Johanna Sievewright, ATC environmental project manager. “The vegetation we’re promoting in the Pollinator Planting Program is ideal for transmission line rights-of-way because it’s compatible with our vegetation management practices and it works well for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

Cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes and entities that allow public access to ATC rights-of-way (e.g. nature preserves, non-profits or public land managers) within ATC’s service area are eligible to apply for financial support of planting projects through the Pollinator Planting Program.

Community Planting Program

The Community Planting Program continues to provide financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property, outside transmission line rights-of-way. Recipients can use the program funding to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation outside the transmission line rights-of-way.

The Community Planting Program is now in its sixth year, and the program helps communities that host ATC transmission facilities. Since its inception, ATC has awarded nearly $300,000 to more than 175 eligible municipalities and counties.

To qualify, communities must commit that all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines will comply with ATC’s maintenance standards.

Applications, funding

ATC will accept applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards for both programs range from $100 to $5,000.

The Community Planting Program and Pollinator Planting Program are part of the Grow Smart initiative, which is directed toward individual landowners and advocates planting low-growing, compatible vegetation in transmission line rights-of-way. Additional information about ATC’s own pollinator planting initiatives, application for the planting programs and eligibility criteria are all available on ATC’s Grow Smart website at

ATC stays connected to the environment through Earth Days of Caring

American Transmission Co. employees teamed up to make a difference during ATC’s Earth Days of Caring. While ATC is committed to environmental leadership all year long, we honor Earth Day by going out in our communities to volunteer each spring in the days and weeks surrounding April 22.

This year, employees used innovation, collaboration and plain hard work to help local organizations meet their goals. Employees in ATC’s Madison-area offices helped at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Teaching Garden, which is a community educational resource. Volunteers prepared soil and tended to the garden. Employees at ATC’s Pewaukee office helped design and build a log mushroom rack for Riveredge Nature Center and helped haul logs up a hill that will be used to shade structure to protect native orchids. Pewaukee employees also helped in the gardens at Interfaith’s Washington Park Senior Center. Employees from ATC’s Kingsford office distributed seedlings at Dickinson Conservation District’s annual tree sale. Employees in De Pere helped with spring cleaning and laid down mulch at Bay Beach Wildlife sanctuary. Check out the photos below from the events to see ATC employees in action!

ATC is committed to environmental leadership and community service and support. ATC’s Green Team plans earth-friendly volunteer events for employees throughout the year.

In additional to environmental volunteerism, ATC also has an extensive environmental program aimed at protecting the environment while providing the essential service of operating and maintaining the electric grid to help keep the lights on. ATC uses new and innovative approaches to help pollinators, birds, wildlife and habitats in our rights-of-way. You can read about or environmental commitment in our new Environmental Annual Report.

ATC employee running 552 miles in 10 days for cancer research

On the morning of May 24, David Jesse, training support specialist at American Transmission Co., started the Infinitus 888K, which is a 10-day, 552-mile ultramarathon. Jesse answered some of our questions about his training, game plan and motivation before the race.

Q: 552 miles over 10 days sounds unfathomable to most. Why do it?

A: Back in August of 2010 my father lost his battle with multiple myeloma. In August of 2017 my mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. My father-in-law continues his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I have other friends dealing with various types of cancer as well. Enough is enough. I’m dedicating my upcoming race to these amazing people and what they deal with every day. I’m donating my energy and sweat, and my goal is to raise $1,500 to help the American Cancer Society fight this terrible disease.

Q: Can you tell us more about the race itself?

A: The Infinitus 888k a 552-mile Ultra Marathon is in Goshen, VT. Over the course of 10 days, I will be running an approximate 7-mile loop and an approximate 19.5-mile loop 20 times each. Yes, it does sound terrible, but it will be nothing compared to watching what my father and mother went through with their respective battles.

Q: Have you ever done anything like the Infinitus 888K before?

A: I’ve done two 200-milers, two 100-milers, a bunch of 50-milers and I’ve run across the Grand Canyon. I’ve also done four Ironman triathlons.

Q: How did you get started doing ultra marathons?

A: I’m always looking for that next challenge. I ran in cross country 5-kilometer races, so from there I figured I could do a half-marathon. If I could do a half-marathon, I figured I could do a marathon. From there, I started doing triathlons. With the timing of a triathlon, I figured I could do a 50-miler. It just snowballed.

 Q: How have you been training and preparing?

A: I am a certified coach, so I am self-coaching. I started training in November 2017. I typically follow a routine – one day of speed work or an up-tempo mid-distance run, one day of hill repeats, a mid-week long run, and then on the weekend is my longest run. Sometimes I run to work. If you go the most direct way from my house, it’s just over 16 miles. And, of course, if you run to work, you have to run back. By the end of the Infinitus run, I’ll be over 2,000 miles for the year.

Q: What is your game plan for the race? How many miles each day?

A: It’s 552 miles, and it’s a continuous clock, so you have 10 days to finish. Right now, my plan is to go 70-ish miles each segment, and then I’m going to rest for four or five hours. In that rest time, there’s going to be an hour of coming down off of the running, a couple of hours of sleep and then an hour of coming back up and getting ready to run. It won’t be by day, per say, but that segment is kind of what I’m calling a day.

 Q: Can you tell us more about the logistics of the race? How will you stay fueled and hydrated?

A: The plan I have right now is the basic plan I use for most of my races. At all times, I’ll have a big bottle of water and a big bottle of Gatorade. I’ll also have energy gels and then some type of solid food, like sandwiches or granola bars. Every 10 minutes, I’ll take a sip of either water or Gatorade. Every hour, I’ll have an energy gel. I’ll have real food every few hours. Within the main lodge, the start and stop areas, they’ll have real food cooking. I’ll be staying in a cabin, which is where I’ll rest.

 Q: What about your mental game plan? How will you stay focused through all those miles? What will motivate you to keep going on day 6, 7, 8?

A: I’m not thinking about it in terms of miles. If you do that, the entirety of it is just going to bog you down. You have to think about it in terms of something more manageable. So, what I’ll think about is 20 loops – that’s all I have to do. I can do 20 of something. Within the big loop, there will be an aid station every six or seven miles to help me refuel or grab a quick snack. Within that, every 10 minutes I’ll be doing something, whether it’s taking a drink of water or eating something. So it’s living in that 10-minute segment. I’ll have three iPod shuffles. On each one, I’ll have seven or eight hours of music. I’ll try to have different music on each one. An upbeat song will cause someone to go faster, whereas as a mellow song will cause you to slow down, so it will be interesting.

Q: How many pairs of shoes are you planning to bring?

A: I’ll be bringing four pairs.

 Q: What is the first thing you’re planning to do immediately after you finish the race?

A: I’ll probably call home as soon as I can. And then if there’s anybody out there that’s getting close to the finish, I’ll do what I can to help them get across the line.

You can help donate to Jesse’s goal and learn more here.

Bucks, ATC and Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy team up on Trees for Threes


This was the sound that the fresh soil made, blanketing the roots of five newly planted ornamental trees at Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy. Add the squeals of delight from school children getting a little dirt under their nails in the planting process and high-fives from Bango. School staff, Bucks Volundeers, ATC, media and many others all gathered for it – another Trees for Threes planting event.

“It’s the second year that ATC has partnered with the Milwaukee Bucks for this program, which has benefitted both schools and communities,” said Bucks Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Alicia Dupies. “Eighty-three schools in ATC’s service area across the state of Wisconsin applied online and received trees this year. The 343 three-pointers made were the second-most in a season in franchise history. I’d like to also give a special congratulations to Khris Middleton too, who led the team in this initiative by scoring 68 three-point shots this season.”

The collective number of trees equaled the number of three-point shots the Bucks scored at home during the 2017-2018 season – and that means there are now 343 new trees going in the ground.

“The Trees for Trees program was a huge win for communities last year, and this year for schools too,” said Anne Spaltholz, ATC’s director of corporate communications. “ATC supports programs that focus on the environment, education, and health and wellness. Trees for Threes encompasses all three, and these kids have just planted a gift that will keep on giving well into the future.”

“We’re so honored to have five new trees here today,” said Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy Principal Michael Morgan. “It’s especially meaningful for us, being an environmental school. Since two of the trees are apple trees, two are crabapple and one is a magnolia, kids will learn more about cross-pollination. But since all the trees are flowering trees, it just beautifies our entire courtyard.”

“Particularly today, this tree planting is unique because they are flowering ornamentals that will benefit pollinators,” said Spaltholz. “At ATC, we encourage low-growing, compatible vegetation that also benefits pollinators through our pollinator program.”

Nearly 100 students quickly handled business by getting those flowering ornamentals in the ground. And Bango’s take on it all? Well, he’s a deer of few words. But no one could overlook his quiet enthusiasm for the new trees – and for the kids who helped make it all happen.

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