(HARLINGEN, Texas) – For many first-semester Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology students at Texas State Technical College, trusting their safety equipment and overcoming a fear of heights are important fundamentals for success in the program.
“The importance of safety is always discussed with the students,” said Angel Toledo, a TSTC Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology instructor in Harlingen. “We emphasize that training equipment is extremely important. (Students) must always have a complete uniform when doing hands-on training. They are educated about equipment and are tested on it.”
A fun-filled activity that Electrical Lineworker instructors implement to help students gain confidence is to have one student toss a football to a fellow classmate while both are atop adjacent training poles.
“This helps students become confident and trust their equipment,” Toledo said. “Climbing can come naturally for some students, and it can be more difficult for others. When they progress, they want to learn more.”
Michael Chis, of San Benito, is pursuing a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
He accepted the challenge from the instructors to climb the pole during the first week of the fall semester.
“My confidence now is great because I was instructed on how to use the equipment,” Chis said. “At the beginning, it did take me a few times to get adjusted. As for the football activity, it was entertaining. The purpose was for each student to not hold on to their strap or the pole. We also had to climb the pole at a faster speed. If you dropped the football, you had to go back down and work your way back up.”
Jose Lucio, of San Benito, is also pursuing a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at the same campus.
“I made sure I placed my equipment on correctly after listening to the instructors discuss the equipment,” he said. “I definitely enjoy climbing. I learn a better approach every time. It’s about getting the technique down. The football activity was really fun. I felt comfortable and confident.”
Rolando Barrientos Jr., a new TSTC Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology instructor, said his 15 years of industry experience allow the students to trust the process and fully engage in learning the proper techniques.
“I believe the football activity is a great technique for students to experience firsthand using and trusting the belt,” Barrientos said. “I have noticed the students become more comfortable while climbing, as well as having more knowledge on the material being taught.”
Toledo said he believes that one of the reasons students enroll in the Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology program is because the career is in high demand.
“Electrical lineworkers are getting paid very well,” he said. “This is one of the top professions in the world. Lineworkers are crucial in our day-to-day lives.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical power-line installers and repairers can earn an average annual salary of $63,770 in Texas. Onetonline.org projected that there would be a 16% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2018 to 2028.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at its Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses.
The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which refunds a graduate’s tuition if he or she has not found a job in their field within six months of graduation.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.