BUCKHANNON — Robert Lowther, Instructor for the Electrician Certification class, has taught at Fred Eberle Technical Center (FETC) for the last 12 years. He invited the representatives from IDEAL Tools, based out of Sycamore, IL, to the school so the adult students could compete in a competition of skills and hopefully advance to the national level, where they would compete for a $75,000 prize in Florida later this year.
Students competing in the program on Friday had to be over the age of 18, due to the large monetary prize at stake if they advance on. Students were from Upshur County and Putnam County, and a couple of the instructors were also competing. Lowther stated, “Students learn a good entry-level skill set in this program, like residential wiring, commercial wiring, and some industrial wiring, making them pretty well-rounded when they leave.” Students perform wiring in the trade school’s house and throughout the building during the year. They also do off-site work at times and this work helps to get them employed once they leave the program.
Lowther indicated that students who attend during the day are from the area high schools, and if there is room, they will also take adults. Evening classes are typically for adults and Mike Murray teaches that class. Lowther said, “If you want to get started in the trade, this is a good place to be.” He added, “This is a big marketing event for IDEAL.”
IDEAL Tools is a family-owned company. They are fourth generation owned at this point, with the great-granddaughter of the original owner now managing the company, according to the IDEAL Representative at the competition, Eric Davidson. Dave Turley from Cody Associates was also at FETC working with Davidson to facilitate the competition. Approximately 10 students were competing in the competition on Friday. Davidson stated, “Today’s event is the qualifying round for the competition in Florida.” Each event would take approximately two and a half hours to complete.
FETC Director Rebecca Bowers-Call was in the classroom observing the prep for competition. Students were allowed to practice before they officially timed-in to the competition. Call stated, “All of our programs are simulated workplaces. Students clock-in and clock-out, they have job titles, random drug testing; we are trying to offer those skills that employees are looking for, not just the actual physical work.” All of the trade programs work hard to make the students responsible and employable beyond completing the programs. Call further stated, “College is not for everyone, but many of our students do go on to further their education.”
Follow The Record Delta for updates on the competition outcomes.