“We cannot thank you enough for the sacrifices endured to ensure power stays on! You are a lifeline in more ways than one.” -I&M customer
Living in the Midwest, seasonal extremes come as no surprise. From ice coating surfaces to intense wind during summer storms, conditions like these are common causes of power outages. To resolve these outages, trained line mechanics work to safely investigate and repair the cause of the issue in a timely manner. The knowledge and skill of restoring power does not come overnight, but instead, it is learned at “school.”
Located at the Baer Field Training Center in Fort Wayne, this unique and expansive classroom offers future line mechanics a four-year, hands-on training experience. Previous experience is not required to enroll. The only requirement is students must have a high school diploma or GED. Students will gain knowledge through introduction classes that cover basic skills, personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard recognition, basic electricity, protective grounding and more in their first year.
Classes gradually evolve to include training on residential underground work, regulators, setting a pole by hand and transformer theory. Enrollment is available for those in I&M’s immediate footprint, with participants also attending from the western Ohio region. Individuals representing small municipals and co-ops are also invited to enroll at the Baer Field training location.
While extensive work is done sitting behind a desk in the classroom, it is paving the way for the important hands-on aspect of this training. The training center features an extensive array of equipment and stations, each calling on real-life skills one will need working on a job sight. Expanding further, an opened outdoor space several yards from the building offers training in a different perspective for students.
Leading the education efforts is a team of dedicated trainers focused on safety, engagement and proper preparations for the work students will be doing in the future. They also push students to become comfortable at being uncomfortable, which allows them to work together to help each other grow. With a goal to reach everyone they teach, educators remain eager to learn new methods themselves, while actively engaging students in this craft they all share a love for.
“For those who enjoy a challenge, both mentally and physically; problem solving through unique situations and varying outdoor climates, this profession is truly for you,” said Nobe Jones, technical training supervisor at the Baer Field Training Center. “The work we do is hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding. Our students get back what they put into this training program, and that includes the opportunity to pursue their passion and grow as an individual.”
In 2022, 45 students completed their training at Baer Field Training Center and will now take on their role as a trained line mechanic. This year, 34 will graduate from the school. For those interested in learning more about this training opportunity and how to enroll, visit: https://www.aep.com/careers/