Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives announced that it has entered an agreement with West Virginia University at Parkersburg (WVU Parkersburg) to further electric lineworker education by offering courses toward an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in the university’s technical studies program upon completion of 45 corresponding semester hours of training at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives’ Mt. Gilead-based Central Ohio Lineworker Training (COLT) facility.
Since its 2004 inception, 209 lineworkers – who are also eligible to continue their education under the new agreement – have completed the COLT curriculum. In 2017, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives expanded the 16-acre COLT field with the construction of a 7,500 square-feet indoor facility, complete with 19 electric transmission poles. The state-of-the-art building enables the replication of on-the-job scenarios and allows workers to learn best practices in a protected environment. The agreement between Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives and WVU Parkersburg applies to past, present, and future lineworkers who have completed or will complete the appropriate pre-requisite COLT criteria. WVU Parkersburg will offer in-state tuition rates to Ohio-based COLT graduates and courses will be available online. Eligible lineworkers must complete an additional 15 credit hours in WVU Parkersburg-approved classes to earn the AAS degree, which has a technical emphasis in distribution line mechanic proficiencies. Lineworkers will have the option of continuing their studies in the WVU establishment in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.
“We’re pleased to partner with WVU Parkersburg to expand our lineworkers’ educational resources and to further their career opportunities,” said Doug Miller, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives vice president of statewide services. “The agreement between Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives and WVU Parkersburg fosters the alignment of relevant on-the-job training and pragmatic vocational knowledge with individual motivation and academic advancement. Because of the continued and growing scarcity of skilled trade professionals - both nationally and in Ohio, notably within in the electricity sector - it’s our responsibility to provide our lineworkers with access to the tools necessary to serve our 1 million consumer-members, while cultivating our employees’ personal scholastic objectives.”
West Virginia University at Parkersburg President Dr. Chris Gilmer echoed Miller’s sentiments.
“WVU Parkersburg is steeped in the tradition of enhancing the educational foundation of those who are engaged in technical occupations. We’ve honored that commitment since the 2008 creation of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia. WVU Parkersburg is delighted to endorse Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives efforts to promote continuing education.”
Established in 1961, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic credits earned at WVU Parkersburg are transferable to any institution in the West Virginia higher education state system as well as other accredited institutions throughout the country. WVU Parkersburg is the only public community college in West Virginia accredited to offer baccalaureate degrees.