Return to Headlines

SISD electrical technology students refine skills, experience real-world jobs in summer camp

Students on location using skills

Students in the Career and Technical Education electrical technology programs at Americas, Montwood and Socorro high schools participated in a week-long boot camp over the summer to refine their skills and visit job sites for hands-on experience.

SISD provided the five-day boot camp June 6 through 10 to allow students to get a glimpse into the real day-to-day life of an electrician, including safety aspects and rules of the trade.

Amanda Acosta, a CTE facilitator for trades and industry in SISD, said the electrical technology program aims to inform students about their employment options, assist them to earn as many certifications as possible, and help them gain hands-on training experiences, make connections in the industry, learn and refine skills, and eventually gain paid employment.

“The electrical program goes above and beyond because they don’t just throw in the towel at the end of the school year. They extend the boundaries of the classroom by bringing in the students for this summer boot camp,” Acosta said.

The program is made possible in part due to grants that allow students to be paid for their summer employment and for the CTE department to provide tools and safety gear. Students don’t have to worry about buying their own equipment necessary to fulfill their jobs.

The SISD electrical program began in 2013 and helps students earn their OSHA 30 and NCCER certifications, as well as an electrical apprentice license to make them more marketable as they go out into the industry.

Gabriel Salcido, electrical instructor at Americas High School, said that instructors set up job site visits to show students what it is like to work in the real world.

“I remember we didn’t have all these opportunities when I was in school and so I tell the kids that they have no excuse not to be successful,” Salcido said. “Our motto is endless opportunities and I think that is exactly what the district is living up to.”

Some 30 students participated in the summer boot camp. The experience and education the students are gaining in the program could lead to jobs in home and commercial construction or becoming a foreman’s apprentice.

Rogelio Perez, a recent graduate from Americas High School, participated for the first time in the boot camp this summer. He got a job with Beltran Electrical Contractors and was working on the Bel Air High School remodeling project. He was tasked with putting up metallic boxes and pipes to ensure electricity flows throughout the building.

“I’ve gained quite a bit of skills that I learned from my time with the program offered by SISD and I’ve been able to use those skills for myself at home and to obtain my current employment,” he said.

Perez said that he’s always been a very hands-on person so he enjoyed that aspect of the boot camp and loves that he can now go out to contribute in his own way to the community.

Daniel Lugo, a recent Americas High School graduate, also is employed by Beltran Electrical Contractors working as an electrical apprentice, where he is doing basic wiring.

Lugo said he thinks that the electrical boot camp is helpful especially for someone that is ready to learn more and who wants to refresh what they learned during the past school year.

“It gives you a similar feeling of what it is like working at a job site,” Lugo said. “Now, with my experience and working at the electrical company, I have opened my mind to everything you can do as an electrician.”

Many contractors have been actively recruiting the students who come out of SISD’s program because they are ready with experience and formal training. The contractors hire them after graduation offering to pay for their four-year education at a higher institution.

Once the students complete their four years and graduate, they become fully licensed allowing them to work anywhere in Texas or in New Mexico.

Salcido said that earning that license at a young age can be a financial breakthrough for these students, who can start making an average of $50,000 a year.

“These students come up to me later on as adults and they have just bought a house or now have families that they can provide for because of the opportunities that they were given here,” Salcido said. “It’s great to hear that some of them followed through and are still working in the industry.”

Published July 27, 2022

Strategic Direction: College and Career Readiness