FORT DIX, N.J. - Staff Sgt. Zachary Batista's opinion regarding the importance of electrical engineering could easily serve as the slogan for the 80th Training Command's entry-level Interior Electrician course taught at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
"Electrical is a way of life," said Batista, who attended the two-week course in June 2015 as a member of the 213th Engineer Facilities Detachment. The unit is scheduled for deployment to Romania in July 2015.
The 213th will perform quality assurance and control functions as the department of power and water in the unit's area of operation.
"I'm actually going to go out to drop sites and supervise contractors," said Batista, who also said that he expects to apply skills he learned in the course during the deployment.
Batista and his classmates learned how to install and maintain interior electrical systems to include transformers, junction boxes, circuit breakers, service panels, switches, electrical boxes and lightning rods. They also learned how to troubleshoot electrical circuits and how to read blueprints, wire plans and repair orders. The students also got practical hands-on experience that could help them in real world scenarios. For example, the instructors tore apart systems the students constructed as practice, then handed them electrical diagrams with specifications and gave them four and half days to build the systems back on their own.
"It's an incredible opportunity to have such great training from the Army," says Sgt. Stephen Bartley of the 336th Engineer Company. "Patient instructors and people that want to teach you the right way. It gives you an opportunity and another tool in your tool bag."
Sgt. 1st Class John Goodlaxson, the course's senior instructor, says a soldier can gain enough knowledge from the course to earn an apprenticeship with an electrical company that he or she could use as a stepping-stone toward becoming a master electrician.
"It's a fantastic trade to have," Goodlaxson said. "It's also fun to see a soldier who's never touched a tool, literally have the light bulb come on at the end."