Electrical Maintenance, No Longer A Man’s Field

Thursday, December 14, 2017 - by Holly Vincent
CSCC Electrical Maintenance student Hallie Ragsdale (left) uses a digital multimeter to check the voltage on a circuit that was created by her fellow student Cheyenne Laws (right) as their instructor, Chris Jones, presses the on button to make the green light come on.
CSCC Electrical Maintenance student Hallie Ragsdale (left) uses a digital multimeter to check the voltage on a circuit that was created by her fellow student Cheyenne Laws (right) as their instructor, Chris Jones, presses the on button to make the green light come on.

Sequoyah High School students Cheyenne Laws and Hallie Ragsdale are getting a taste of what college is like while still enrolled in high school. The high school seniors are enrolled in the electrical maintenance program at Cleveland State Community College’s Monroe County Center. 

“I don’t know if they realized completely what they were getting into being high school students enrolling in a college level technical program,” stated Instructor Chris Jones. “While the courses have been challenging, I think they have done very well. I don’t think they realized how far they had come in such a short time until the LEAP Day event when they were asked to demonstrate some of the things that they had learned in the program. I think they were all surprised when some of their fellow students from Sequoyah that are interested in the program came up to them and started asking questions, and they were able to answer them. It was a eureka moment for them, almost like, 'Wow—look at how much we’ve learned in about 50 days!'"

Mr. Jones is referring to the recent LEAP Day event during the Monroe County Center Advisory Council Meeting. Representatives from CSCC highlighted the work that is being done to eliminate the skills gap in East Tennessee as a result of the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) 2.0 grant funds that CSCC was awarded last year. 

CSCC and Pellissippi State received a LEAP 2.0 Grant in the amount of approximately $1M, with CSCC receiving almost half of that. CSCC purchased $300,000 in equipment for training programs at the Monroe County Center. Participants at LEAP Day were able to go on a student-guided tour of the newly equipped classrooms and see current students demonstrate the skills they have learned thus far. Ms. Ragsdale and Ms. Laws were two of the students who were asked to demonstrate their skills. 

“I felt much more confident after it was all said and done,” stated Ms. Ragsdale. “It was not as stressful as I thought it was going to be because I was used to presenting in front of my fellow students in my class.”

The girls are currently enrolled in DC Circuits, Technical Calculations and Manufacturing Processes, and because of their positive experience in the program, plan on enrolling for the spring semester, as well. 

“This class has been a very fun experience,” stated Ms. Laws. “I love all of the hands-on work, and Mr. Jones is a really good teacher, and he really takes his time with you…I can’t wait to see what we learn next semester!”

The girls said they enjoy many things about the electrical maintenance program at CSCC—the  hands-on experiences, the small class setting, the one on one attention from the instructor, the material and the real world experiences the instructor shares. 

Ms. Ragsdale said, “My favorite thing about CSCC is the people that helped me get to the point where I am today—Pat Bryant, Patty Weaver and Chris Jones. I send my gratitude to those people; they have impacted my life more than they will ever know.”

Mr. Jones said of his students, “Hallie is an organized student with a great work ethic; she would do very well in this line of work if she decided to stay with it, and I’m very proud of Cheyenne. She just refuses to quit in the face of adversity.” 

“We are so excited to offer this opportunity to our students in Monroe County,” stated Patty Weaver, assistant vice president for Workforce and Economic Development. “This isn’t just a man’s field to go into anymore, as these two young women have learned. It’s a great career field for them, as well. This has truly opened up a whole new world to them.”

These high school students will have the opportunity to continue classes in the spring semester, completing a one-year Electrical Maintenance Certificate during the course of their senior year. The program also offers these students the opportunity to apply for internships available at area industries during their second semester. If students choose to continue on at CSCC, all classes will apply to an associate of applied science degree in electromechanical maintenance. Other high school students are invited to start technical classes at the college’s Monroe County Center located in the Tellico West Industrial Park in the spring semester.  New students starting the courses in January will have the opportunity to take additional classes in the summer semester to finish out their certificate as well. 

Ms. Weaver stated, “We hope that high school juniors will take advantage of this program and consider enrolling in afternoon classes during their upcoming senior year.” 

The college plans to offer both electromechanical and mechatronics classes in 2018-2019.  For more information, contact Pat Bryant at 423-884-2338, or email advanced_technologies@clevelandstatecc.edu.

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