Students Test Electrical Careers with Industry Support

Electrical Alliance continues sponsorship of SkillsUSA regional competitions in Southern Maryland and Northern Maryland

Students of electrical work in St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert counties in Maryland, met for the SkillsUSA Southern Regional residential wiring competition at the James A. Forrest Career and Tech Center in Leonardtown, MD on February 23rd.

Alex Frederick of the Calvert County Career Center won the competition. He earned a 14-piece Klein tool kit as first prize and will go on to the Maryland state and possibly the national SkillsUSA competitions.

Competitors completed a written exam totaling 20 percent of the final score and prepared a residential wiring task that was laid out in typical drawings and specifications. Judges scored their work for accuracy, neatness, and safety, as well as specialized technical requirements.

The Electrical Alliance, a joint venture of the Washington, DC Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association, (NECA) and Local Union 26 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) sponsored the event. The Washington DC Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC), which is funded by these two organizations, provided volunteer judges.

The judges were led by JATC Assistant Directors, Richard Murphy and Rhett Roe, and veteran electrical journeyman, Ina Smith. Second year electrical apprentices Tony Gagliano and Keith Stone, assisted the judges.

Stone graduated from James A. Forrest Career and Tech Center and is now employed by a Washington, DC-area electrical contractor. Upon completion of the five-year electrical apprenticeship program, he, as well as all other apprentices, will be a fully qualified journeymen electrician, earning up to $81,000 annually plus health benefits and retirement pensions.

Murphy said he enjoys judging because “the SkillsUSA competitions give the students an opportunity to test the waters before they commit to an electrical career.”

The Electrical Alliance also sponsored the Northern Regional competition held on February 20th at the Center of Applied Technology, North (CAT North) in Severn, MD including Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City. CAT North student Kenneth Vodusek won the Northern Region and also received a 14-piece Klein tool kit. His father is project manager for Potomac Testing Inc.

Northern Region volunteer judges included Steve Howard, superintendant at J.E. Kelly and Sons, and Nick Schaefer and Alex Schaefer, both first year JATC apprentices. Nick Schaefer won the Northern Regional as well as the State residential wiring contests last year. The Alliance sponsored his trip to the National SkillsUSA competition held in Kansas City, MO where he placed fifth.

SkillsUSA operates partnerships between schools and employers that expose students to the real world of work before they commit to a full time adult career. It organizes and conducts competitions that enable the students to test their competency against their peers, furthering their drive and desire to succeed. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national level. The final event is a multi-million dollar showcase that occupies a space equal to 16 football fields.

In 2009, more than 5,400 contestants competed in 91 events. Nearly 1,500 judges and contest organizers from labor and management make the national event possible. The philosophy of the championships is “to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.”

The main electrical training center for the JATC is located in Lanham, MD with branches in Manassas and Roanoke, VA. The JATC also equipped and supports the electrical training center at North Point High School in Charles County, MD where it operates a satellite training classroom.

For information about careers in electrical trades, visit For details about the JATC apprentice training program and an online application, visit For more about SkillsUSA, visit

About The Electrical Alliance
The Electrical Alliance is a cooperative effort between electrical contractors and skilled craftsmen to provide quality products and services to customers and to set the standard for efficiency, productivity, and safety within the electrical industry. It is jointly sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association and Local 26, IBEW. To learn more, visit News & Press or follow the Electrical Alliance on Twitter @dcelec_alliance.