When Joe Reasoner and Ed Davis enrolled in Trident Technical College, they didn’t know each other, they had never heard of the Charleston District and were completely unaware of the District’s newly established Student Career Experience Program that was about to change their lives.
After five years in the military, Reasoner decided it was time to go back to school and pursue a degree in Electronic Engineering Technology. Once in the TTC program, one of his professors encouraged him to apply for the electrician SCEP, knowing the opportunities this would open for his student.
“I enrolled in TTC for an electronic engineering degree because that is what I had done in the U.S. Army,” said Reasoner. “I had experience in it and enjoyed it.”
Davis always knew he wanted to be an electrician, so he enrolled in the Industrial and Automation Electrical Application program at TTC. Davis came by the program by chance. He saw a flier hanging in a hallway at TTC and decided to apply because he knew it would be a great fit for him professionally.
“My father told me I should learn a trade and electricity really interested me,” said Davis. “So becoming an electrician was an obvious choice for me.”
The dynamic duo were the first to start the program at the Charleston District’s St. Stephen Powerhouse and Dam on September 15, 2008 and the first to finish it on June 13, 2013.
SCEP is offered throughout the federal government as a way for students actively pursuing a career to receive on-the-job training and to provide agencies with high-caliber students to fill permanent positions.
“SCEP is a win-win situation for everyone,” said Brian Wells, chief of operations. “There were several openings at the St. Stephen Powerhouse, but instead of open recruitment, the District decided to use SCEP to build up young craftsmen with the hopes of retaining them long-term.”
Since the program was new to the Charleston District, there was no set training plan, so training consisted of computer classes, reading manuals and mechanical and electrical blueprints, and the help of senior employees.
“We read a lot, but there were always senior employees around that would help to answer our questions,” said Reasoner. “Several other employees at the powerhouse had gone through the program in other Districts and they provided input and were great mentors.”
The rigorous four-year program is broken into phases with an oral exam every six months, and prepping for the exams was no small feat.
“Everyone in the plant would do mock exams with us,” said Davis. “Everyone here helped us through this program.”
They both agreed that the biggest challenges they faced were working full-time, taking classes and studying for the exams.
“It made for long days and lots of sacrifices. Most days I would get to work at 7:00 a.m. and not get home until 10:00 p.m. that night,” said Reasoner. “One time I had three finals and an oral exam to study for, it was a lot to handle, but it was worth it in the end.”
Now that they are graduates of the program, they have big plans. Part way through the program, Reasoner switched from electrical engineering to mechanical engineering and he plans to continue to work towards his mechanical engineering degree. Davis is pursuing an engineering degree through TTC and The Citadel.
They both are preparing for their respective senior qualification’s next year, which will require them to shadow the current senior staff, review plant material, safety material and all the different aspects of management.
Since the first class of SCEP was such a success, the District has decided to continue the program and is nearly complete with the selection process for the second class. Reasoner and Davis will be excellent mentors for the new trainees!