TSTC Electrical Power and Controls Instructor Bases Student Lessons on Real Experience | School News
ROSENBERG —An open field on the campus of Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County recently served as a classroom for a hands-on project.
A group of 12 students in the fifth semester of TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program performed two industry-relevant tests during the project: a four-point soil resistivity test and a potential drop test with a grounding.
Both tests are essential to good electrical grounding for residential, commercial, industrial, and utility construction.
“Wherever we live, we need grounding,” TSTC instructor Jonathan Bonkoske told his students. “Grounding is one of the biggest deals of all time. Proper grounding techniques are extremely important. If there’s a lightning strike nearby, I guarantee you won’t. will care.
Bonkoske designed the project as a culmination of what the students have learned so far from their training, but it is not from a textbook. Instead, he took his industry work experience and applied it for a real-world training opportunity.
“I modeled a lot of our work, starting today with electrical tests, after my actual career experience tests I did in the field,” Bonkoske told his students. “I brought that here and developed these labs from that.”
The forms and charts that students would complete and map as a result of the project are industry-accurate and will make relevant additions to students’ work portfolios documenting their education at TSTC.
Field electrical service technicians — a possible career path for TSTC students — would normally perform the pair of tests before new construction begins to determine site needs.
High voltage can make anything a conductor, Bonkoske explained. This is why homes, buildings and other facilities need a ground rod or other grounding systems.
The composition of the soil – sandy loam, in the case of the terrain on campus – and its resistance at a given site also affect the choice of a grounding system. Even the weather plays a part in testing – a beautiful 71 degrees with 28% humidity on campus at the time of the draft.
The students split into two groups and sank four electrodes into the ground, each separated by 6 feet apart. The test equipment sent an electric current and the students recorded the voltage. Next, the students drove a copper ground rod into the ground and plotted the resistance values in 5-foot increments up to 70 feet.
Bonkoske supervised, offering direction and assistance with equipment as needed, watching students learn to perform tests like the ones he has spent his career completing.
“That’s what drives me,” he said. “I lived all these courses, and I put my experiences in the content. That’s exactly what it means – it’s experience.
TSTC offers an associate’s degree in applied science in electrical power and controls at its campuses in Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas, and Waco. Power and Controls is one of TSTC’s money back guarantee programs. If participating graduates do not find employment in the industry within six months of graduation, TSTC will reimburse their tuition fees.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In Texas, electrical technicians can earn an average annual salary of $69,310, according to onetonline.org.