(WACO, Texas) – If the blazing summer sun was bothering them, 17 teams of five students each did not let it show as they climbed practice utility poles to show off their skills and toughness at Texas State Technical College’s second Lineworker Rodeo at the Waco campus on Tuesday, July 25.
The students — including one female student — from TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology program at the Waco campus competed in a variety of events while weighted with some 30 pounds of gear and tools. The events included a test of speed, which involved conveying a raw egg to the top of a utility pole and back down again without breaking it; an insulator change; a single arm change-out; and a double arm change-out.
Power transformer manufacturer Prolec GE Waukesha was the event’s platinum sponsor and one of more than 46 of TSTC’s industry partners in attendance. Six industry partner representatives served as judges.
A lot could go wrong during the competition. Failure to wear personal protective equipment, dropping a hard hat, improper use of tools, and making negative comments, all could result in points being docked.
Dwain Love, lead Electrical Lineworker instructor in Waco, said to do electrical line work takes a certain mentality.
“You have to pay attention, no matter how hot, cold, miserable, tired or whatever, because it’s a dangerous industry,” he said. “If you follow the rules and procedures, you’re about 99.99% safe, because it’s a dangerous job.”
Love said the competition provided students with a chance to show company representatives what they are made of.
“We want them to have fun and all that,” he said of the competitors. “But mainly we want them to connect with industry partners. So after the competition, they have a couple hours to mingle with them, give resumes and talk to them. A lot of these industry partners need people, and we want to supply them. So this is a good way — probably the best way I’ve seen — for them to connect.”
Philip Lynn, an Electrical Lineworker instructor at the Waco campus, agreed.
“Really, the biggest goal is trying to get as many people to have a career after this as possible,” he said. “(The students have) been coming out here for three semesters, whether it’s 100 degrees or below freezing, trying to put their best foot forward, learning the trade, every day coming out to learn something new. So it’s really exciting to see how much they’ve progressed from where they started to where they’re at now. I think the industry professionals that’ll be here to watch them are going to see that today.”
Competitor Everett Watson is working on a certificate of completion in the Electrical Lineworker program.
When asked what he hoped to accomplish at the event, he said, “Showcase what we can do, show what we’ve been doing the past year and a half.”
Another competitor, Thomas Timbes, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in the program.
Asked if there was anything in the event that he was worried about, he said, “Nah, you really can’t be worried. You’re going to be doing it for your career, you know, so you’ve got to look forward to it all.”
Therisa Meinecke is the mother of competitor Markus Meinecke, who is in his third semester of working toward his associate degree in the program with two more semesters to go.
“I’m excited for him,” she said of his chosen career path. “We were looking for something that he gravitated toward. After one semester in a university, he decided that wasn’t for him. This competition is all he’s been talking about for weeks.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at its Abilene, 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.
Registration is underway for the fall semester. For more information, visit tstc.edu.