A group of students in Meridian’s Energy and Power program are climbing to new heights in their careers during Electric Utility Lineworker summer internships.
These students are part of the Electric Utility Lineworker area of specialization. The school began offering this specialty in 2022 as an industry-driven response to the growing need.
“The energy sector continues to grow in Oklahoma and across the nation. These are high paying, in-demand jobs that aren’t easily filled,” said Dr. DeAnna Little, Director of Instruction for Meridian’s Trades and Industry Programs.
In the program students learn to install and repair electrical power systems. They climb electrical poles and learn to lay underground cables. Graduates of the program enter the power industry as pre-apprentice lineworkers, substation technicians or equipment operators.
“In the beginning, the hardest thing was getting up the pole,” said Caleb Wells, a student in the program. “Now I love climbing and doing the work. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
The students applied for these internships throughout the area to use the skills they’ve learned in the program. Caleb Wells and Landon Hurst will intern at Central Rural Electric Cooperative, Landon Koch and Parker Schmitz at Northwestern Electric Cooperative, Dalton McClure at Force Electrical Services and Parker Robinson at the City of Perry.
Hunter Robinson, CEO at Central, has been a strong supporter of the program from the beginning. Robinson is a member of the program’s Business and Education Council. Meridian’s Business and Education Councils bring in industry professionals in the district to collaborate with programs on what is needed in their respective fields.
Central also donated the materials to build an electric utility pole training workspace at Meridian.
“Many electric utilities need help now, and that is where Meridian’s program excels,” Robinson said. “The challenge for many utilities is finding candidates that are not only interested in the field but also have some basic hands-on experience.”
Internships give students hands-on work experiences while offering a supportive learning environment. Participants are exposed to real-world work scenarios and complex aspects of the job before they formally join the workforce.
“Not only are our students gaining experience in the field, but they are also impacting their communities by filling the skills gap in the workforce,” said program instructor Jeff Littau.
The internships impact not only the students’ careers but the entire district as the need for experienced lineworkers continues to grow.
There is a growing need for experienced lineworkers as more people retire. Robinson said the ability to hire experienced workers is critical to all utilities.
“Electricity is critical to local communities and ensuring it is reliable is paramount,” Robinson said.
In their internships, students will have the opportunity to network with lineworkers in the field. This allows them to learn from the team’s experience and knowledge. Wells is looking forward to learning from the team at Central.
“I really want to see how these guys work,” Wells said. “I want to see what it takes to become a lineworker and build on that to become one myself.”
The students will spend eight weeks at the companies they are interning at this summer. Wells plans to return to Meridian to finish the second year of the program in the fall.