Course Contemplation: Electrical techniques program

Scientist. Engineer. Technologist. Technician. Techniques.

These are words synonymous with the School of Applied Science and Technology at Fanshawe College. The faculty boasts about four schools with an immense collection of practical programs for students to choose from. One of these programs is electrical techniques, a one-year program in the electrical cluster.

Electrical techniques is the least mathematical program in the electrical and electronics cluster and compared to many other programs, it is quite hands-on.

Professor John Conley, the program co-ordinator of electrical techniques, shared his insight with the Interrobang on the inception, delivery and journey of the program so far.

“This program has been going for about a decade and is constantly evolving,” Conley said. “We have a very good graduation and about 85 per cent placement rate.”

Conley explained that the main purpose of the program is to act as a pre-apprenticeship and that successful students are very attractive candidates for an electrical apprenticeship as well as other entry level electrical jobs.

“What we try to do in this program is to service kinesthetic learning, which is people who learn by doing. Compared to other programs especially in the electrical cluster such as electrical technician twoyear program and electrical technologist three-year program with co-op is that we have 75 per cent hands-on and 25 per cent theory.”

According to Conley, electrical techniques is more learn-by-doing. He described it as non-faith based and that every lecture is reinforced with a lab on it.

“Another thing to consider about the program is that it is reserved for mature students who can manage their time well. Often times, students in the program are first generation with prior post-secondary education. Having people who are keen on learning by doing has really driven the success rate of the program,” Conley said.

The program now has a weekend offering from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, which began within the last two years owing to the success of the program. Weekend offering is mainly for people that want to be retrained for their current job in the field, and because of that the delivery is intense.

“I only recommend weekend offering to mature students,” Conley advised. “They are a little more organized, settled down, and can handle that amount of information within a short amount of time.”

The weekend offering has also started at the St. Thomas campus and according to Conley, the program is doing quite well.

The weekend intake has about 18 to 20 students for an ultimate delivery method while the daytime school has about 140 students grouped into smaller 18-member labs to make lecture and labs more manageable and personal. It also ensures that the health and safety of the students are considered. With only a technologist and an instructor in each lab, their efforts will be totally overwhelmed if there are lot of students.

“We have a lot of sections. We started out with about eight sections of 18 students each in the day school this semester. One of the things we pride ourselves in in this program is that it is achievable,” Conley said. “We actually constructed it such that a person can, if they manage their time well, essentially get everything they need for the program done as far as homework and projects within a daytime hour. It is not a means to outsmart the students.”

“The essence of this program is to provide successful students with documented experience for the ministry-approved formal training and licensing as a gentleman electrician. It is also good for laddering, especially for students who want to transfer from one program to another or to the university, and for experienced workers who wants to earn credits after completing the prior learning assessment.”

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), literally known as the electrical union, is a professional body electrical graduates can join after completing the three-year cycle of their training.

Electrical techniques is only available in the fall semester and does not have the general education requirements, a bid to keep the students focussed on their program at hand. There is also a $1,000 scholarship awarded every year for women to encourage their inclusion in the program.