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TSTC Marshall hosts first ever Iron Lineman Challenge

The climb was on Wednesday as students in Texas State Technical College in Marshall’s lineman program competed in front of representatives from area electrical co-op companies to showcase their skills in the first “Iron Lineman Challenge.”

Students from Marshall High School’s Career and Technology Education (CTE) program also attended the event to learn more about the college’s program.

“This is our first time to do the Iron Lineman Challenge here in Marshall,” TSTC’s Statewide Electrical Technology Department Chair Eric Carithers said Wednesday. “This is a true competition with where the students have the opportunities to showcase their skills and display the teamwork they’ve established.”

The event also included a chance for participants to be recruited for employment with local companies.

“We have the hiring managers here from 11 different local co-ops, including Upshur Rural Electric and Rusk County,” Carithers said.

The college plans to host another lineman competition for representatives from area companies like Encore and AEP/SWEPCO in the next several weeks, Carithers said.

Students involved in all levels of the Electrical Lineman Technology program compete in the challenge, Carithers said. The college offers a 36 credit hour Lineman Certification 1 program and a 60 hour Electrical Lineman Technology Associate’s degree program.

Carithers said electrical lineman start out making good pay, which only rises as they go on to become a journeyman lineman.

“If our lineman program, statewide, isn’t TSTC’s top program, it’s one of the top two,” he said. “Students can get a good paying job by the time they graduate or earn their certification. Just this morning, I had a student hired on with AEP/SWEPCO for $19 an hour starting out. Once that internship is over, he will be bumped up to $27.50 an hour and then four to five years down the road when he becomes a journeyman, he can go up to $48 an hour.”

Carithers said TSTC’s program is popular not only because of the opportunity to earn employment upon graduation, but also because of the affordability of tuition.

“TSTC as a whole prides itself on offering a quality education for an affordable cost,” he said. “The main goal is to get students in to good paying careers in industries relevant to the local region.”

Beginning this fall, TSTC will add on to its partnership with Marshall High School, through the Mav Tech Program, to offer the first Electrical Lineworker dual credit program for high school students in the state of Texas.

The program will be offered to Marshall High School juniors and seniors will include five courses for 14 college credit hours.

The five courses will include: Climbing Skills, Distribution Operation, Orientation into Lineman, Special Topics and DC Circuits.

“All of the credit hours taken through the dual credit program will transfer into the Lineman Certification program or the associate’s degree program,” Carithers said.

Mav Tech currently offers Marshall High School students dual credit courses in Business Management Technology, Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Cyber Security, Structural Welding, Software Development Technology, Machining and Industrial Controls Technology.

TSTC Marshall also has dual credit partnerships with several other East Texas high schools including Elysian Fields, Waskom, Hallsville, Harleton, Longview, Pine Tree, Union Grove and Timpson.