Even when she was younger, Ridgefield High School graduate Amanda Berta kindled a passion for building — one that has now rocketed her to the prestigious two-year Renewable Energy Development Program at General Electric.

Berta, a member of the RHS Class of 2013 and a senior at Pennsylvania State University, interviewed alongside more than 300 students earlier this year before GE hired just four for the elite program.

She told The Press last week she is ecstatic about the opportunity.

“I really look forward to working in the different sectors of onshore wind energy,” she said. “I am also really excited to get to climb the turbines. I hope to off-board the program into field engineering and make it my job to climb every day — and fix them!”

Berta will be examining wind turbine blades for weaknesses in Schenectady, N.Y., for her first rotation, before learning more about manufacturing at Pensacola, Fla., for her second rotation. Following those two stops, Berta will be monitoring service wind turbines in the Mojave Desert — a familiar destination.

“I was assigned to the parameters team which monitors all settings on the turbines,” Berta said of her 2015 internship with GE. “We basically made sure the right parts had the right settings so the turbine could function properly. I was then given the opportunity to go out to California and climb and fix wind turbines at the Alta wind farm in the Mojave Desert.”

Earlier days

Berta said she’s liked the concept of engineering ever since she was a child.

“I constantly told my parents I wanted to be a builder when I grew up,” she said. “As I got older I became more interested in the environment and majors that catered to this passion.”

She said that RHS helped her cultivate the organization and time management skills she needed as she pursued her passions in Penn State.

In the fall of 2013, Berta enrolled in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) at Penn State.

“Penn State provided a perfect balance of renewable energy technologies and current energy technologies like fossil fuels,” she said. “Out of every college on campus, I think EMS does a particularly great job of providing a learning atmosphere applicable to real jobs.”

She said the biggest challenge with energy engineering is balancing schoolwork and “play time.”

“There is a lot of work that goes along with any engineering major, and it’s important to stay involved on campus as well as staying on top of your studies,” she said. “I found that once I mastered my schedule, I enjoyed my time much more at school.”

‘No handholding’

Berta found time to delve more deeply into energy engineering outside of school.

During the summer of 2015, she interned at GE.

“I absolutely loved interning with them,” she said.

Now she eagerly looks forward to her next adventure with GE.

For the graduating seniors this year, Berta has some advice: “College is really fun, probably the most fun you’ll ever have in four years, but if you don’t go to class and you fall behind in your work, you’ll find that professors are not so forgiving.

“There is no handholding, and due dates are generally pretty much set in stone. So have all the fun you want, but at the very least, go to class.”