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RichmondCC Substation Program Receiving National Attention

May 6

May 6, 2016 - Worldwide leaders in the electric utility industry know where Hamlet, N.C., is thanks to Richmond Community College’s Electric Utility Substation and Relay Technology program.Richmond Community College instructor Morteza Talebi points to a diagram in a class of Electric Utility Substation and Relay Technology students.

“We are a small college but we are making a big impact within the electric utility industry,” said Steve Lampley, lead instructor for the EUSRT program. “I’m taking calls daily from companies asking about hiring our graduates or wanting to make site visits to our campus or donate equipment to this program. The biggest problem is explaining to them we’re in a little town in Richmond County, N.C. — not in Richmond, Va.”

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is a global leader in the invention, design and manufacture of digital protective relay systems that protect high voltage power grids around the world. Headquartered in Pullman, Washington, the company opened a third office in Saudia Arabia this past December. This same company recently donated relay systems to RichmondCC to be used in the classroom for the EUSRT program.

“This is top of the line equipment that our students are getting to use and learn to operate,” Lampley said. “This donation from Schweitzer is worth well over $70,000.”

Schweitzer also hired two EUSRT graduates and placed them in jobs in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte.

Schweitzer joins a growing list of companies that want to hire the relay technicians that are graduating from RichmondCC. Duke Energy, Dominion Resources, Power Grid Engineering, Lumber River Electric Membership Cooperative, PowerServices, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Central Electric Power Cooperative, SPX Waukesha, American Electric Testing Company, NAPC and North American Substation Services are some of the companies.

“Ninety percent of our current graduating class already have jobs; the other 10 percent are interviewing for jobs. Most are receiving multiple job offers,” Lampley said.

When RichmondCC instructors attend international utility conferences in places such as Boston and Atlanta people know about the EUSRT program and want more information, Lampley added.

About the EUSRT Program

Established in partnership between RichmondCC, Doble Engineering Boston, Mass., and Duke Energy, the EUSRT prepares students for lifelong careers in the electric utility industry and other industries that rely on complex control systems. The EUSRT program was the first of its kind in the United States. A second college in Florida was encouraged by Duke Energy to copy the RichmondCC model.

“When the College recognized the power industry’s need to train the next generation of utility workers to replace those approaching retirement age, we were on board to establish a program that would meet a demand and offer our students an opportunity for high skill, high wage jobs,” said Dr. Dale McInnis, RichmondCC president.

In the utility industry, entry level technicians with two or four-year degrees in electronics engineering require five years of training to be capable of maintaining and supporting substations and the relay equipment associated with them. The EUSRT degree program, however, was crafted specifically to develop technicians with the training and skills to begin work immediately in the utility industry and cut the normal training time in half. Salaries for this two-year degree typically start around $60,000 a year. 

This year some of the 2016 EUSRT graduates are starting at $70,000 with full benefits.

RichmondCC is also offering a diploma program for an Electric Utility Transformer Test specialist, which can be completed in four semesters.

Sign Up Now

RichmondCC is currently accepting new students for summer and fall classes. Applications can be completed online, or by visiting the Main Campus in Hamlet or the Honeycutt Center in Laurinburg.

Summer classes start May 23.

For more information, call (910) 410-1700.