The NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center (NIETC) is always looking for new ways to reach its membership, trigger renewed interest in training and above all, provide value.
With that concept in mind, The NIETC is moving forward along with technology. Apprentices enrolling in classes are now being integrated into a Learning Management System or LMS. This system provides an online portal where students log-in to their accounts, view all of their courses, view embedded videos, click on active links to related resources and complete their assigned homework. The homework is then graded and reported back to the student and the instructor. This allows for students to complete their homework, have it checked and re-study or seek out assistance on topics they did not understand. This also provides the instructor with an overview of how the students did on their attempts, what areas caused a majority of the difficulty and what was well understood. The ultimate reward is better understanding and retention by the student. The reduce time consumed in the classroom spent reviewing material is now being used to offer enhance hands–on labs and expanded training on more difficult material. It is a win-win for all involved.
This move to utilizing technology does not stop at the apprentice level, journeyman workers are seeing the trend also. The NIETC has been offering an online component for the renewal of CPR certification. Again students log-in and go through a review of materials previously covered in the original course and take a quiz on the written portion of the course. The students then come to the training center at a later date to perform the hands-on portion of CPR, demonstrating their physical ability to perform the skills that they reviewed and tested on online. This is only used for a renewal of a certificate that was originally issued in a a classroom setting, and allows for members who have taken the class every two years to simply review and demonstrate. The goal is to be proficient at CPR so it can be used when needed.
The Training Center also offers a course on Instrumentation, which is a highly technical topic in utilizing computers and programmable controllers to manage and process the mixture of fluids, gases and electrical signals. This course encompasses at least 138 hours of student time in class, along with additional hours in study and personal preparation for certification testing. The high level mix of topics requires the student to have a broad knowledge of science in combining all of the components of this course. The end goal is certification and the ability to perform this work for High Tech clients throughout the Northwest.
Also new to the scene is a course on 3-D modeling or BIM. This course provides a base knowledge of how and why computers are being used to build virtual representations of structures prior to construction, enabling contractors to foresee potential conflicts and avoid them prior to advancing in the construction phases. This saves not only reworking of the project, but allows for a look into where the building will be at various timelines. It also provides for manpower forecasting as well as opportunities for prefabricating elements of the construction. This is also being integrated into apprentice classes to prepare them for their changing roles in the future. Technology is one aspect of construction that will continue to change at warp speed and we plan to do the same.