by Cameron Smith
While male students heavily dominate the Electrical Power Transmission Technology program at South Plains College, one young woman is hoping that changes.
Allison Edwards is the only female student in the ELPT program at the Reese Center campus in Lubbock.
“Professor (Diana) Malone is the only other female in this class,” said Edwards.
Edwards is taking the course in the Advanced ELPT program so she can receive an advanced certificate with an Associate’s degree. However, SPC does offer a standard program for students to receive a one-year certificate.
“I honestly chose it on a whim,” Edwards said. “I ended up really liking it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at first. I was doing my basics and I had no idea what I wanted to do. But I knew I wanted to be able to do something after I left South Plains.”
It did not take long for Edwards to notice the lack of women in the electrical work field.
“There’s about 3 percent of women in this field,” Edwards said. “There’s an even lesser percentage in Texas.”
Previously, Edwards has been trying to contact and reach out to companies so she can land a job after she graduates. Unfortunately, she has been facing sexism in almost every position she applies for.
“I’ve tried going out before,” Edwards said. “They told me that there are many secretary positions available at these companies that I wanted to work for. I know what I’m doing, and I can do just as good as the next girl or guy.”
This doesn’t stop Edwards from persevering and working hard on her craftsmanship. She continues to soar higher in her classes and supply great work.
“After I finish the program, I plan on commercial and residential work,” the 22-year-old said. “I like working on businesses, building the electrical work and conduit bending.”
Conduit bending are the pipes that protect the wires from weather. The electrician must bend the pipes certain ways so that they can clear obstructions while maintaining the crucial electrical work inside a building or residence.
The classroom environment in the ELPT program is much different from a more traditional classroom. There’s hardly anyone in their seats as they’re working on their projects assigned to them by their professor.
“Right now, I’m working on conduit bending,” Edwards said. “I’ll come in and Professor Malone will tell us different sections to go to. Building circuits and recreating what you have drawn in real life. You actually put the wires in the receptacles and switches on the circuits.”
Instead of the pencil and paper used in more traditional classrooms, Edwards has a utility belt full of different tools and instruments.
“I use a lot of different tools,” Edwards said. “With circuit building, I use measuring tape, screwdrivers, hammers, lineman pliers, needle nose pliers, wire strippers, a voltage meter, hacksaws, and carpenter pencils.”
Edwards might be the only girl in her program, but she doesn’t let that affect her work. She continues to progress through the program with her hard work and perseverance.
Professor Malone said Allison doesn’t shy away from helping fellow students.
“Over the last year, Allison attended several electrical classes and earned an “A” in each class,” Professor Malone added. “Allison’s beacon character is empathy. Although her work is higher than many of her peers, she is never too busy or haughty to help a fellow student. Her attendance is excellent, and she would enrich any company lucky enough to employ her as an electrician.”