Producing work-ready graduates is the goal of each of the 20 plus training programs at Meridian Technology Center. Instructors ensure this occurs through Business and Education Councils that include industry experts, recent graduates and current students.
“I want to know if I’m setting students up for success,” explained Wayne Ford, an instructor in Meridian’s Electrical Technology program. “This process gives us direct feedback. Input from my Business and Education Council has helped push this program in the right direction.
In addition to providing suggestions on program equipment and curriculum content, council members share insights on industry changes that include growth and declines, plus an industry-specific employment outlook and salary ranges. Meetings also assess the skills, knowledge and abilities that are considered the most critical for each industry and identifying which credentials are in the greatest demand.
Ford’s recent council meeting specifically addressed the need for additional training opportunities. Council member Ron Morris, the electrical field supervisor with the state’s Construction Industries Board, noted there was a gap in the area of finding electricians skilled in the area of troubleshooting.
“There are electricians who are so good at wiring a house that they could probably do it blindfolded,” he said. “The problem is that when it comes to being able to identify and troubleshoot an issue, they are at a standstill.”
Current student Xander Barker commented that students can troubleshoot issues but that it is more of an accident than a part of the curriculum.
“I definitely agree that knowing more about troubleshooting would be helpful. Recently, a panel wasn’t working, and we had to try to figure out what was wrong with it,” the Stillwater student said. “We finally figured out that it was just a bad GFCI outlet.”
Other council members agreed. Ford noted that students learn the “right way” to wire and that the program could easily incorporate an additional workstation to focus on this aspect. Previous changes Ford has made with input from council members include restructuring the program so students could earn hours toward apprenticeships, dividing the program into residential and commercial career majors and implementing a grading sytem that encourages students to focus on advanced skill attainment.
Council members also provide feedback on the strength of a Meridian education. Last year, 97% of participants rated Meridian excellent or above average for curriculum, instruction, equipment and technology. In addition to providing guidance to instructors, many council members engage with students throughout the year outside of council meetings.
Morris’s commitment to serving as a council member runs deep. In high school, he studied electrical technology at Mid-America Technology Center, and his son is a graduate of Meridian’s program. As a council member he is a frequent guest speaker and serves as a skills contest judge.
“This is one way that I can continue to give back to this industry,” he said of his commitment to serve. “I know the value of a CareerTech education.”
The Electrical Technology Business and Education Council includes industry representatives Bruce Field, Elite Electric; James Johnson, Locke Supply; Donna Parrish, Parrish Electric; Ron Morris, Construction Industries State Board of Oklahoma; Charlie Peterson, Habitat for Humanity; Hal Pettitt, Richardson Homes; and current students Hollis Mayfield and Xander Barker.
Ford was intentional with inviting members to join the council. In addition to having representatives from several communities Meridian serves, he wanted to have members who work in various aspects of the field.
“When they’re here, they are getting the foundation they need, but it’s important for students to know how diverse this industry is,” Ford said. “They can have a successful career as an electrician, working in distribution and in licensing. I want them to know what’s possible.”
Meridian welcomes members of local businesses that represent or hire graduates of any of the programs Meridians offer to serve on a program’s Business and Education Council. Contact us at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509 to learn more.
Ron Morris serves as a member of the Electrical Technology Business and Education Council.
James Johnson is a member of the Electical Technology Business and Education Council.