Electrical technology program students in demand | News

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Students in the Elmore County Technical Center’s electrical technology program are getting a jump start to a great career.

Instructor Jason Harris said students leave the program ready for the workforce.

“I have a few local companies that are picking the students up when they graduate,” Harris said. “Some are saying they will take anybody I send that have been through the program and have the basics down. They can apprentice under someone.”

Harris has been at the tech center for 11 years. His students have gone on to be electricians, engineers and beyond. Some go on to college but fall back on skills learned at the tech center. 

Others use the program to get back on track. Harris had a student who was close to dropping out of school use ECTC’s credit recovery program to catch up on academics. The student was also in Harris’ program.

“They just loved my program but hated school,” Harris said. “I got him a scholarship through SkillsUSA. It paid for one class and asked him to do it for me.”

Harris said the student called him a few weeks after the class began. The student informed him he was signing up for a Pell Grant and a full load the next semester. 

“He graduated and is now making good money,” Harris said.

Also in Harris’ class is James Glenn, a senior at Elmore County’s The Edge online school. He was previously a student at Wetumpka but his rodeo ambitions work best with virtual classes. 

“I will pursue rodeo a little bit, but electrical will probably be my career,” Glenn said. “It will take me far. (My father) has done electrical his whole life. He has taught me a little bit. We help my uncle with some electrical on the side.”

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The program introduces students to the basics of electricity. They wire boxes and panels and even learn to read blueprints. Last week, Harris was teaching first-year students how to use an engineering scale with blueprints of the current Wetumpka gym. He helped students Grace Hines and J.T. Blakeley determine measurements and locations of receptacles from the drawing to figure out how much was needed.

Hines said she knew there was a good bit going on behind walls and in a ceiling when it relates to electricity. She has already learned how to splice wires in Harris’ program.

“I probably see myself doing something with this,” Hines said. “Maybe electrical engineering.”

Harris’ students also work towards an OHSA 30 certification through CareerSafe. 

“It covers general construction safety,” Harris said. “It covers all the silica standards, not drilling into concrete walls without having some kind of vacuum attachment and more.”

Harris got his start in electrical with his father in Gadsden. His father was an electrical subcontractor on the side.

“When I graduated high school my dad, he quit the steel plant and started teaching electrical,” Harris said. “I saw how much he liked it.”

Harris found his way to Montgomery. He took a few jobs with various electrical companies and was teaching a similar program at Fortis College when he took the job at ECTC.

Those connections help in turn help the students. Every year, every student in the program participates in mock panel interviews with those in the industry. Students are strongly encouraged to be prepared and dressed appropriately for interviews.

“Some are ready to hire them as juniors,” Harris said. “I got people calling me already asking if they are going to graduate early.”

 

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