Technical training program is helping high school students find their way in the construction industry
ICC’s High School Technical Training Program works for the industry, for the public and for students who have better prospects and higher wages
Through the International Code Council High School Technical Training Program (HSTTP), ICC staff meet code officials, school administrators, instructors and students from across the United States. Every participating school has a story of success, achieved through determination, dedication and hard work. One such school is Dowell J. Howard Center in Winchester, Va. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Allegheny Mountains, the school has four students each participating in the carpentry and electrical curriculum of the High School Technical Training Program.
Dowell J. Howard Center Assistant Principal Janet Pack with the Fredrick County Public Schools attended a presentation on the High School Technical Training Program and immediately saw the value it would add to her student’s employment opportunities. The center started the High School Technical Training Program this past school year.
In the middle of the school year, ICC High School Technical Training Program Liaison James Ellwood received a call from Pack. The center’s electrical instructor had retired and Building Trades and Carpentry Instructor Tom Withers would not be able to teach the electrical students the International Residential Code (IRC) portion of the electrical code. This also meant that the electrical work in the modular home Wither’s carpentry students were building would not be completed, nor would he be able to continue his building code training for his carpentry students. Janet Pack was determined her students could complete the course, and she reached out for help from her local code officials and the International Code Council.
Mark Fleet, electrical inspector with Fredrick County, came on board and met with the electrical students and their long-term substitute. Fleet discussed how to navigate the IRC, went over the electrical codes with the students and talked about how they could prepare for the ICC Certificate of Achievement exam. James Ellwood spent a day with the electrical students and illustrated how to utilize the IRC and how best to use the index and table of contents. It was evident that the electrical instructor prior to leaving had given the students a good foundation in electrical design, fundamentals and hands-on experience in installation.
Ellwood revisited the Dowell J. Howard Center and spent the day with the building construction students and Tom Withers, where he toured the modular home that the students have been working on, and examined the array of sheds students had constructed and were currently constructing. Ellwood spent time during the visit to again review the codes and discuss the best ways to navigate the IRC. With the work the students were doing on their modular home and sheds, it was evident that Withers’ students are well-school in construction techniques and terminology.
On the day the students were given their exam, several students passed on the first attempt and several were very close. A second exam was presented for those students eager to pass. When the sawdust settled, eight students had passed the final exam and received their ICC Certificate of Achievement.
Janet Pack says the ICC High School Technical Training Program provided the Howard students with “…more than just a value-added curriculum for their resume. When they studied for and passed the IRC exam, they gained confidence and expertise.”
With only two weeks of school remaining, Erica Gaudette, a senior electrical student at Dowell J. Howard Center, also took the building exam and passed. She was clearly up for the challenge. “I took the other exam because the more experience I get, the more improved I will become,” Gaudette said. “I want to better myself. I like having options for my future and knowledge is power.”
When asked how she prepared and what was her method of study to complete both courses, Gaudette answered, “I highly recommend highlighting, taking notes and if there’s anything you can’t visualize, look it up. It’s extremely helpful to look at what is being talked about in the book. Also, the study companion quizzes are really helpful to practice in answering questions. Always write down where you found the answer. Make a list of definitions as well; it’s important to understand all of the words used in the text. Otherwise, you are memorizing things you don’t understand.”
Great techniques for all of us to use.