ETEC offering new certificate

Robert Pierce,

   The Los Medanos Electrical Instrumentation & Technology or ETEC program will now offer a Certificate of Achievement in Transit Electrical Technology that can be completed in only three semesters, the creation of which was sponsored by BART.

   The ETEC program at present involves three semesters of required capstone classes and a fourth semester in which the student selects either Electrical Specialization or Instrumentation Specialization. However, the new Transit Electrical Technology only involves the first three semesters and does not require a fourth. While students can still go on to take a fourth semester and thus gain two certificates, the fact that it is only optional advances students into the workforce much faster.

   “They looked at our program and saw it was way more than they need, so they carved out 25 of the 42 units, enough to fill three semesters,” said David Wahl of Workforce Development. Wahl’s work with the creation of the certificate included putting classes together, holding phone meetings, negotiating with BART, marketing and generally managing and keeping track of the project.

“We’ve had the electrical instrumentation technology programs for about 10 years. They were developed primarily to serve the workforce development needs of local advanced manufacturing, primarily refineries,” Wahl said. “They really represented a whole other industry aside from advanced manufacturing, which is mass transit.”

   With five major refineries in Contra Costa including Shell and Dow Chemical, the LMC ETEC program, which Wahl described as “flagship,” boasts a high rate of employment for its graduates, and the new Transit certificate offers a whole new field for students.

   “The whole idea with the focus on transit was something that served the workforce development needs of our community,” Wahl commented. “So those are good, local, family sustaining wages.”

   Several hundred students, according to Wahl, have already signed up for the certificate, including student Jeramy Galli, who has finished AC and DC units and will be moving onto motors next semester. Galli is confident it will give him a competitive edge in the job market.

   “It’ll show that I have the experience, so I’m not needed to be trained on site… for the most part I’ll have a general idea of what to do, so that puts me ahead of other candidates,” Galli said. “I have a good advantage of staying with the company for a while… It puts me at a higher priority of being hired and also gives me a wider range.”

   Cooperative Work Experience Education chair Cecil Nasworthy, who has a long history with the ETEC program and was part of the project team for the Transit certificate, is also hopeful for what it will bring to campus, referring to it as “definitely a good thing.”

   “It’s a subset of courses that we will do just for that certificate… Those are things that BART has told us that they need,” Nasworthy said. “In three semesters this is what we can give you… even if they don’t go to work for BART, they can get a transit certificate.”

   While the certificate has been touted as offering students a wide range of potential career options beyond BART, the company themselves, who initiated the creation of the certificate after receiving a Federal Transit Authority grant, seems pleased with its effects.

   “So far they seem happy with our students,” Nasworthy said of BART. “I haven’t heard any complaints.”

   Wahl is also happy that the certificate adds an extra dimension to the already popular ETEC program.

   “I think that there are a lot of students, a lot of our STEM students, who have a lot of ideas about careers that maybe shift in their first year at the college, who maybe don’t know about jobs that require high levels of math and science and chemistry and physics… They’re just more of a hands-on nature and not a lab setting,” Wahl commented. “So it’s good to have that exposure campus-wide.”