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New EPT pole field sparks interest in Wichita

31 August 2017
New EPT pole field sparks interest in Wichita

“A power linemen can earn $99,343 annually after five years in the field,” states Pratt Community College President Michael Calvert.

The statement shocked the crowd attending the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Westar Energy training site, located at the Wichita Area Technical College Grove campus on Tuesday. The training site was a collaboration between Westar Energy, Pratt Community College, Wichita Area Technical College, and USD 259 in an effort to fulfill the need of skilled power linemen across the area.

After Westar relayed the need for more skilled workers in the field to WATC almost two years ago, the partnership began. WATC reached out to PCC to collaborate on the program. Students who participate in the program in Wichita will take their general education courses through WATC and their technical courses through PCC. They will obtain either a certificate or an associate’s degree from PCC at the end of the program, depending on which route they choose.

Wichita Public Schools, USD 259, granted access to their field located next to Wichita High School East. After a lot of hard work and collaboration between the four entities, the pole field was finally erected.

“This partnership and this facility provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about careers in our industry and develop those necessary skills, which we hope sparks interest in careers at Westar,” said Bruce Akins, Westar Senior Vice President of Power Delivery.

The field contains poles of various sizes for prospective linemen to practice their craft. The eye-catching facility is centrally located in Wichita to spark more interest and conversation about the trade.

“Wichita is our largest metropolitan area that Westar serves, which translates to the area with the most customers and consequently, the most linemen to serve those customers,” states Akins, “It is a highly skilled craft that is in demand not only at Westar, but across the country.”

The pole field will also serve as a training site for USD 259 students preparing to enter the workforce. Students can begin the program their junior year and will be work ready after they complete their high school education. Senate Bill 155 allows high school students to take technical courses such as electrical power technology at no cost to them.

Pratt Community College students Brett Vinns and Dalton Kincaid showcased their pole climbing skills they have learned in the EPT program at the ceremony. The ceremony was attended by Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, numerous Kansas legislators, Wichita Chamber of Commerce members, and more.

Pratt Community College offers the EPT program on-campus and online. Interested students can contact the Associate Director of Special Program Admissions, 620-450-2114, elyseb@prattcc.edu. For more information about the Electrical Power Technology program, contact Dave Campbell at 620-450-2127 or phillipc@prattcc.edu.