Friday, February 15, 2013

Pole climbers demonstrate skill at Chandler Science Spectacular

A mother and her child watch
CGCC Energy Utility Technology
students demonstrate climbing
and line repair skills during the
2012 Chandler Science Spectacular.

There’s something about the image of a crew soaring to the top of a utility pole that is impossible to ignore. Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) is counting on that fascination with heights and the people who aren’t afraid to reach them as a way to attract a lot of attention during the Chandler Science Spectacular on Saturday, Feb. 16. The 3-Day Festival is a celebration of science and part of a larger effort to increase awareness of Arizona as a tech-savvy, science-oriented state.

The college is planting a utility pole in the grassy campus of the event to demonstrate what students learn in its Electric Utility Technology (EUT) program. Students in the program are taught the best techniques to climb utility poles and repair overhead and underground distribution wires.

Chandler’s event is meant to create a friendly point of entry to science for students and their families with the idea that once people see how integral science is to their everyday lives, they’ll have a better appreciation of how important a science and technology education is to the future. CGCC is using the pole climbing demonstration to attract attention but also to introduce students to a potential career.

“Our Electrical Utility Training is one of a number of programs we have that prepare students for high-skills, high-wage jobs,” said Maria Reyes, dean of Career and Technical Education. “The energy industry is experiencing high demand and we’ve been working closely with our energy business partners to ensure the training students receives is directly applicable to today’s technology.”

Employment opportunities in this field include municipal-, investor- and privately owned power companies; power line contractors; and local utility companies and have an average income ranging from $45,000 to $73,000. The program is offered at CGCC’s Williams Campus, which offers a technical certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Students become familiar with the use of tools, materials and equipment of the trade and, upon completion of the program, are prepared for employment as well-informed, entry-level line workers. According to program director Mark Weaver, CGCC graduates more than 80 percent of its students, and places more than 60 percent in utility-industry jobs.

“It’s important for Chandler-Gilbert Community College to develop career paths for the growing and emerging industries in our community and to help fill the need for a skilled and educated workforce,” said Reyes. “Many of these careers require a solid foundation of science, technology, engineering and math education, which the festival highlights in an entertaining and engaging way.”

Chandler’s Science Saturday is in downtown Chandler from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is the final event in Chandler’s 3-Day Science Spectacular, showcasing science and technology in the city. Other events include a Tech Crawl, where visitors can tour Intel, Air Products, and the Innovations Incubator, and A Night of Art & Science, a celebration of the science that goes into artistic endeavors.

The City of Chandler is hosting this festival in conjunction with the Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide effort to increase Arizona’s reputation in the science and technology industry. For a complete list of events, visit or

For information about CGCC’s Electrical Utility Technology program call 480-988-8255 or visit

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