“We have a strong partnership with them, having trained some of their workers through the Quick Start program, and we already had a good training facility in Rockmart,” said Stuart Phillips, vice president of student affairs at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “The company helped us develop the curriculum, but our instructors will be teaching the classes.”
The program will prepare students to work in the power industry with an associate degree of applied science in instrumentation and controls technology. Students who complete the program will be offered a paid internship with Southern Co. or one of its affiliates.
“That’s an excellent career opportunity, but students would also have the skills to work for any public utility, power plant or manufacturing company that uses electrical instrumentation systems and controls,” Phillips said.
Many of those skills will transfer to jobs in the fast-growing renewable energy field.
Instrument and controls technicians trouble shoot, repair, install and maintain instruments, control devices and electronic equipment. The work is done mostly indoors and can be performed by men and women.
“These jobs require high-level skills,” Phillips said. “Our students will need to be strong academically, as well as technically, so the application process will be competitive.”
To apply, students need a high school diploma or a GED. They also are required to take the COMPASS college placement test and hold the gold-level Work Ready Certificate (which can be obtained at any technical college). Applicants also must pass a background check and a drug test.
“Once they complete their pre-occupational core college classes, we’ll be looking at their GPA for those classes,” Phillips said.
Students who have skills or experience in applied electricity, electronics, process or machine controls, computer networking, or hydraulic and pneumatic systems will have a leg up on the course work. Good math and science skills are a plus, Phillips said.
The occupational curriculum includes hands-on and theory courses in direct current circuits, applied AC and DC electricity, AC and DC motors, solid state devices, electrical print and schematics, motor controls, programmable logic controls and the fundamentals of temperature flow and level.
“We are in the process of accepting our first class and hope to start either this fall or winter,” Phillips said. “The group will move through the lock-step program as a cohort.”
Electric energy occupations pay well. “We’ve heard starting salaries in the $60,000 to $70,000 range,” Phillips said.
For information about the program, call Donna Hopper at 770-684-5696 or go to www.gntc.edu. For the academy in Macon, call 478-757-3400 or go to www.centralgatech.edu.
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