ACTC Helps Students Prepare for Lineman Jobs

Preparing Tri-State residents for lineman jobs is one mission of the Applied Process Technology Program (APT) at Ashland Community and Technical College.

There are jobs out there now for trained people, and there will be many more in the future as baby boomers retire, said Bob Chaffins.

Lineman Technology and Power Plant Operator options were added to the Chemical/Refinery Operator option in 2007 to help students become qualified for those good-paying jobs and to help employers find qualified workers.

Companies and contractors that hire from our program include AK Steel, AEP, Calgon, Marathon, Viola Environmental, Sun Chemical, DuPont, Pike Electric, Davis Elliott Contracting, Grayson RECC, CW Electric and Mastec, Chaffins said. Contractors and industries in surrounding areas and adjoining states are also hiring.

Employer input is a key to APTs success in training students for area jobs according to Chaffins. Many area employers are represented on the APT Advisory Board, and their recommendations help determine the skills that students will be taught for success on the job.

Advisory Board members provide information on the latest industry needs and requirements, said Everett Phillips, Director of Customer and Distribution Services for Kentucky Power.

The program uses the Advisory Board information to train operators and technicians, and the training is complete and detailed enough that students can begin productive work quickly when hired said Neil Wilson, Advisory Board Chair and a retired AEP regional engineer from the Big Sandy Plant.

In addition to Phillips and Wilson, Advisory Board members from the power industry are Carol Ann Fraley, Grayson RECC; Clarence Greene, KY Association of Electric Co-Ops; David Mell, Aaron Sink and retiree Mitch Thomas, AEP Big Sandy Plant; and Vernon E. Mullins Jr. and Lloyd Rayburn, Kentucky Power.

Advisory members from chemical, petrochemical, uranium enrichment and steel industries are Tim Albert and Aaron Pridemore, DuPont Wurtland; Bob Bouts and Anita Devers McGinnis, United States Enrichment Corporation Government Services (USEC); Carl Darling, Tom Huston and retiree Randy Edwards, Dow Chemical; Amy Dowdy, Americas Styrenics; Edna Holbrook, AK Steel; Ed Knisely, Sunoco Chemicals; Larry Lake, Marathon Petroleum Company;

All APT options lead to Associate in Applied Science Degrees and are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions. General education courses for basic college-level skills are combined with technical courses needed for success in the field.

Many of our employers require a minimum two year degree as entry level for hiring, Chaffins said. Our graduates come to the employer with a broad based knowledge of the technology. They are experienced with independent study and can continue learning on their own.

Lineman Technology

Lineman Technology prepares students to maintain and repair electrical lines. It was initially developed with support from AEP through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Climbing poles, utilizing equipment such as bucket trucks, and working with electric current are only part of the job. Students also learn to analyze data and operational situations for appropriate corrective action and to use appropriate technology in maintaining and troubleshooting power transmission systems.

Safety is the most important thing that students learn, said instructor Jim Speaks, a retired AEP troubleshooter. We have all the safety equipment that is used in industry and students use it in class. Students learn to handle different voltages and the right way to climb poles and install transformers.

Speaks and fellow instructor Amos Bartley, a retired AEP general foreman, have almost 60 years of combined job experience.

The best thing about my experience here is the non-stressful atmosphere, said student Anthony T. Lewis, an Ashland resident who heard about the program from his father who works for AEP. The teaching staff is down to earth, and I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a career in the distribution energy field.

I loved being in the program with teachers who have so much experience to share, said student Matt D. Rice, a Fairview High School graduate and Ashland resident. In todays world, you need higher education for higher paying jobs.

Rice chose the lineman program because I enjoy being outside and having something different to do every day and he has already recommended the program to several people.

The Lineman option is good for students and businesses, said Mike Wilburn, Project Manager for CW Electric. Everyones looking for more education and we need more qualified people.

As part of a campaign to increase the number of line workers, Grayson Rural Electric commissioned license plates in 2009 depicting two helmeted workers on a utility pole. Part of the fee from each plate goes to ACTC and other KCTCS colleges to support line worker training programs.

People with physical stamina who enjoy working as part of a team and who are interested in a field that involves outside work will find lineman technology to be a fulfilling career.

Plant Operator Options

The Power Plant Operator and Chemical Plant/Refinery Operator options prepare people for entry-level positions in a variety of industries.

I came to ACTC to give myself the opportunity at a better job and life. For five years I was stuck in a job that just was not right for me, and I needed a change, said student Shawn S. Riggs, a Russell KY resident and Russell High School graduate. I know many people who went through the APT program and have been successful with what they have learned here.

Power Plant Operation students receive an overview of the industry and all methods of power generation, with an emphasis on coal-fired plants that use steam turbines. Graduates are prepared for employment by any kind of power plant, industry or manufacturing company that uses or processes steam.

Chemical Plant/Refinery Operation students learn to monitor and control plant operations for a variety of industries, with a focus on semi-automated and automated systems used to process chemical substances into industrial or consumer products

APT provides a pool of very well qualified candidates for operator positions, said Anita L. McGinnis, Human Resources Manager at USEC. We have found that students who have completed the requirements of this program require less training than others who are hired by meeting other qualifications.

We have been fortunate to hire many graduates from the program and they all have been an asset to our facility. added Robert R. Bouts, USEC Plant Training amp; Procedures Manager.

After receiving my degree, I was offered more than one job with local companies, said APT graduate Antwane M. Meadows, a Huntington, WV resident now working at AK Steel. My goal was to get a degree that would give me many employment opportunities and that was definitely accomplished here at ACTC. Many of my fellow students have taken jobs in OH, SC, and NC.

Meadows transferred his APT credits to Marshall University and is finishing a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Safety.

The APT graduates that we have hired have come in with the basic knowledge of what a Refinery Operator is required to know, and they understand the concepts that a Console Operator must know, said Mark A. Perry, operations Manager for Catlettsburg Refining, LLC.

There have been APT graduates in each class hired in recent years and we hope for the same in the future, Perry said.

Applied Process Technologies means teaching people how to run a plant, and just about anyone with determination can succeed in the program said Hershel Collier, APT Professor. Weve had people right out of high school as well as those who have been out of school for some time. If they have the will, well supply the knowledge they need.

New students can start on their general education courses this summer and begin getting ready for good jobs that pay $16-$28 an hour. For enrollment or additional information, contact Bob Chaffins, Applied Process Technologies Program Coordinator, 606/326-2478.