About Our Instructors
WECA believes strongly in offering the highest quality student-teacher interaction in all of our programs. As a result, we are extremely selective in choosing our instructors by focusing on their abilities to teach as well as their expertise in the electrical and/or low voltage industries. Our apprenticeship instructors and ET/CE program instructor leads are full-time employees. They come from the industry as former contractors, foremen, project managers and estimators - all with a stable foundation of experience. Each instructor goes through a rigorous credential and certification process by both the State of California and Division of Apprenticeship Standards. This is done to ensure that each of our instructors know the materials thoroughly, and also that they can convey this information effectively to students. Because of our instructors' backgrounds, WECA students have the opportunity to ask questions that go beyond the scope of the materials. We often hear students say, "It's great to be in a class where the instructor has been there and done that!"
Born in Sacramento, California, Jimmie Slemp has more than 20 years of experience in the electrical industry and has worked for seven large electrical contractors in the Sacramento area, including WECA members Butterfield Electric, Inc., and Rex Moore Electrical Contractors & Engineers.
Jimmie attended Cordova High school just a couple of miles away from the WECA Rancho Cordova facility. "Looking back at my high school days, I was probably not the best student. However there were a couple of classes that were of interest to me-- auto shop and basic electronics." During his final year of high school, he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do, so his brother-in-law introduced him to an Army recruiter. "While I wasn't a great student in high school, I was no dummy either. I had a pretty strong mechanical aptitude and that opened up a lot of career opportunities for me in the Army."
When entering into the army at age 18, Jimmie went into the field of power generation repair, and the mystique of electricity kept him wanting to learn more. After doing his initial training in Virginia and general maintenance in California, Jimmie moved to Germany. In Germany, Jimmie was assigned to a higher level of repair and learned more about the electrical side of a generator.
After the Army, Jimmie went to American River College in Sacramento and took basic electronics classes where he was introduced to more advanced theories of electricity. ("There's more to electricity than Ohm's Law," says Jimmie.) While he was attending ARC, a friend told him about a merit shop that was accepting applications. Attracted to mechanics and the hands-on qualities of being an electrician, Jimmie took the apprenticeship placement test. In 1984, Jimmie became an indentured apprentice and then completed the commercial apprenticeship program in 1988.
In 2001, Jimmie became interested in teaching. After attending a seminar at WECA, he was approached with a part-time teaching opportunity. It was at that point Jimmie realized his true passion - reaching out to and connecting with students. Jimmie went on to teach the night-time apprenticeship courses for two years before he was offered a full-time, daytime teaching position. "Although teaching has its challenges, with challenges come rewards. There's nothing like a student saying, 'Thank you for helping me understand and making it fun at the same time.'"
Today, Jimmie teaches apprenticeship, manages the Rancho Cordova lab facility, and contributes to the ongoing development and improvement of apprenticeship curriculum. In 2006, Jimmie was presented with the Instructor of the Year award for his "commitment to the trade, creativity, patience, and love of teaching" as recognized by Greg Anderson, WECA Board Member and current Chair of the WECA Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
In Jimmie's spare time, you can find him riding and working on his motorcycle. Jimmie says, "Did you know that a Harley Davidson has a three-phase electric alternator? Why? Just like commercial wiring, because it's better than a single-phase."
When it comes to teaching, Jimmie believes "we have a lot of information to cover in two weeks; sometimes I can only introduce a subject to the students. I hope I can do it in such a way that a student becomes interested and continues to learn on his or her own. That's one of the reasons I like the electrical field -- there's always something new to learn."
You can reach Jimmie at email@example.com
GetWired! Training Manager, curriculum writer, subject matter expert, instructor, residential and commercial electrician, and professional auctioneer – Dan Bierly is a man of multiple talents and brings many years of experience to WECA. No matter the event-- whether it’s custom training for the California Real Estate Inspection Association, developing the first distance learning program for the electrical industry or even auctioning off gift baskets for a WECEF donation event-- you bet Dan was a major player in making it happen.
After graduating from Yuba College and Wichita State, Dan spent many less-than-gratifying years working in upper management at a well-known retail chain. Desperate to find a fulfilling career, Dan decided to dive into the electrical trade by applying for his first job with WECA member contractor H&D Electric, (who also indentured him into WECA’s Apprenticeship Program, from which he graduated.) Dan went on to work as a field foreman for seven years while gaining extensive experience in troubleshooting and service work. Dan enjoyed his time at H&D, but decided to move on to his brother’s contracting business in the Bay Area, Bierly Construction, to develop his skills as a commercial electrician.
Ultimately, Dan enjoyed working with his hands and seeing the finished products come to life, but he always knew deep down that his dream was to be a teacher. Again, itching to realize his full potential, he got his foot in the door at WECA by applying for a part-time instructor position, teaching nightly Electrician Trainee courses. Dan was quickly recognized as a passionate and knowledgeable instructor and was hired on full-time. He went on to teach a large volume of Get Wired! and Exam Preparation courses as well as many day-time apprenticeship classes. “I used to think I loved being an electrician, but after I taught my first nightly class, I realized that while I only liked being an electrician, I absolutely LOVED to teach,” he says.
Today, Dan’s teaching and field experience, combined with his technical expertise, has contributed to the development and update of top-notch curriculum for all of WECA’s educational programs. This includes the conception of Get Wired! Connect to Learning, the first distance learning program in the electrical industry. Dan also oversees the Get Wired! program instructors, and often personally develops and delivers custom, private training events.
In Dan’s spare time, you can find him auctioning off goods, wares, and rarities and making guest appearances with his fellow auctioneering partner and wife, Kindra Bierly, on the reality TV show Storage Wars: Texas.
You may reach Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org
In his junior high school electronics class, Rick Labon became interested with applications like three-way and four-way switching. This interest with electricity soon turned into a fulfilling 30+ year career in the electrician industry.
Before he began teaching, Rick was involved in many aspects of the electrician field. He started as an apprentice and quickly expanded his expertise to work in roles such as a journeyman, foreman, supervisor, and ultimately becoming an electrical contractor. He has worked on many commercial, industrial and residential projects during his career. He is a master electrician by trade and experience.
Today, Rick continues to contribute to the electrician industry as a lead apprenticeship curriculum developer, as well as still teaching apprentices at the WECA Riverside training facility. He gets great satisfaction from the opportunity to share and draw upon 30 years of experience as an electrician. "This is a great opportunity for me because I've always wanted to teach. It's especially rewarding to see students understand the concepts that I've presented to them," said Rick. "I want to mold apprentices to be safe, knowledgeable, and competent journeyman electricians."
In his curriculum development role, Rick is a company leader in eLearning development and incorporating jobsite technologies into the classroom. As a talented illustrator, Rick also produces many of the technical graphics that go into WECA's curriculum.
Rick is a Certified California Electrician and a Credentialed California Vocational Education Teacher. He is originally from Michigan and now resides in Hemet, CA. Rick is happily married and has two grown children and five grandchildren. In his spare time, he likes to restore muscle cars and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
You can reach Rick at email@example.com
Rick was born in Oakland, and has lived in San Diego since he was 3 years old. In 1979 he joined the AFL/CIO laborers union where he worked in a rock plant/asphalt/concrete facility. While employed there he noticed that the electrician was the one that fixed problems on the plant, earning the respect of his coworkers.
In 1980, the Teamsters went on strike, and at that time an electrical contractor that a relative was employed by offered him a position. That was the start of a career that has spanned three+ decades. Starting with an ABC apprenticeship in the mid 80’s, followed up with many years of learning, and hard work he eventually started his own Company, ‘Active Power Electric’. However, he quickly realized that he was much better as an electrician than a businessman. In 2000 he went back to work as an employee, and has never regretted it.
In the field, he has completed (or performed on) underground power distribution, Condos, Custom homes, remodels, commercial TI’s, ground up office complexes, and mining facilities. Through relentless dedication and hard work he progressed into middle management, field supervisor, Project manager, and Service manager, gaining experience and knowledge all along the way that has lead him to his current position with WECA.
When a teaching position became available with WECA, it fit his needs perfectly. He started as a ‘Get Wired Instructor’ in February of 2011, and took a full time position as Apprentice Instructor in San Diego in September of 2012. Rick jokingly quotes George Bernard Shaw, “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” Now that he's older, says Rick, "It is difficult to ‘tool up’ all day, and try to keep up with the younger guys in the field. The advantage to age is the knowledge and experience that comes with it. Even with the many years of experience that I bring with me to WECA, no person can ever know it all or do it all. This is especially evident in the electrical field. I find that this keeps things new and interesting day in and day out. "
Rick has been married for "39 years this past March to the best woman alive. I have three sons, all of which are married; and 3 grand children with two more on the way. I believe in strong family and strong friendships all center on a strong faith, with that faith put into practice every day."
Degrees, Certification/Licenses, Industry Involvement
- California State Certified Electrician since July 2006
- Member of IAEI
You may reach Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Kingstree, South Carolina, Zach earned his Associates Degree in Electronics Technology at the Nielsen Electronic Institute in Charleston, South Carolina. During a two week vacation to California to visit family, he decided to start anew and find a new career on the west coast. Some years later, Zach was introduced to WECA and the electrical field by a family friend. Enticed by the decent wages being an electrician would provide as well as being the type of person that likes to work with his hands, Zach became an indentured apprentice at WECA in 1993. In his final year of apprenticeship, Zach was offered his first foremanship position at H&D Electric Inc., where he happily worked for fourteen years. In September 2006, Zach was offered a nightly, part-time position teaching courses for WECA's GetWired! program.
Today, Zach teaches for WECA full-time as an Apprenticeship instructor. Over the years, he's enjoyed many accolades from fellow instructors and students and was also the recipient of the 2010 WECA Instructor of the Year Award.
Awards and compliments aside, Zach finds teaching very rewarding. "To help students really get it; to make the light bulb 'come on' really keeps me going", says Zach. He loves to make learning fun and interactive for the students no matter how unvaried the subject matter may be. Zach feels that his greatest reward as a teacher is knowing that students are moving forward in their careers because of a concept he helped them to understand. "To have been an asset in the ladder of their careers and the students' appreciation that they were able to go further in the field will always be my greatest reward."
In Zach's personal time, you can find him in the garden growing delicious produce for his family and friends or fishing off the bank in the river. He also enjoys spending time with loved ones and watching the Carolina Panthers beat out the San Francisco 49ers.
When it comes to teaching philosophy Zach says "I like to provide students with the basics of what we do as electricians-- letting them know the value of their education, and how what they are doing today is an investment in their future. I stress the fact that our trade requires us to always be safe, and that safety is the key to a long and lasting career in the industry. I encourage them to get all that they can get from this educational experience, because it is only the beginning of where this trade can take them."
Degrees, Certification/Licenses, Industry Involvement
- Associates Degree in Electronics Technology from Nielsens Electronic Institute, Charleston, South Carolina 1984
- WECA Graduate 1999
- Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship/Electrician General Certification since 2005
You may reach Zach at email@example.com
LaKeal Morris is a native of Sacramento and graduated from Burbank High. In 1998, a friend ran the idea of electrical engineering by LaKeal. Having always had a knack for math and science, LaKeal decided to explore a career in the electrical industry. He was hired for his first electrical job in 1998, became an apprentice with WECA the same year, and has been involved in the trade ever since. He went on to graduate from WECA’s first-ever Residential Apprenticeship Program class in 2001. LaKeal has over 15 years of experience working in the electrical industry and has worked with two of Sacramento’s prominent residential electrical contractors, H & D Electric and Marticus Electric.
In 2005, LaKeal was asked to join WECA’s instructional team and began teaching nightly Electrician Trainee courses. LaKeal knew he wanted to get involved with teaching early on thanks to a teacher who had a great influence on him. “There’s nothing like working with students and knowing that you’ve helped them understand a concept and helped get them where they need to be,” he said. LaKeal just enjoys teaching. “It’s important for me to have fun when I’m teaching, even if I’m usually laughing at myself. I love what I do and want the students to have the same kind of experience” he continued. In 2009, LaKeal added to his teaching repertoire and began teaching numerous online courses for WECA’s eLearning program, GET WIRED!™
Today, LaKeal’s experience in the field and teaching has greatly contributed to students’ success at WECA. LaKeal now teaches in WECA's Commercial Apprenticeship program, primarily teaching first-year apprentices, where he is able to combine his knowledge of the trade with his love for teaching. He easily sees the connections between his work in the field, what he learned in school, and what he now teaches to students who hope to follow similar paths. “I’ve always thought that if you can teach somebody how to do something, then it means that you already know how to do it. Passing that knowledge along is the most rewarding part of what I do,” he said.
LaKeal believes he has "found that electricity and life have many parallels. I believe if I show students examples, then they will see life differently and, hopefully, they will be driven to learn more about electricity."
When he’s not shining as WECA’s Lead Continuing Education and Electrician Trainee Instructor, LaKeal enjoys spending time with his family, laughing and playing ALL dancing video games with his kids (On Xbox, not Wii, of course). He also enjoys playing basketball and golf, and he loves absolutely everything about baseball. GO GIANTS!
Degrees, Certification/Licenses, Industry Involvement
- Electrician Residential Certification, 2002
- Electrician General Certification, 2009
- C-10 Contractor’s License, 2010
You may reach LaKeal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Smart is an apprenticeship instructor at our Riverside training facility. A Los Angeles native, Keith has over 10 years of experience from owning his own business to working for contractors like California Associated Power, where he helped build Whole Foods Markets and Superior Super Warehouse Markets. Keith gained valuable experience working on installation projects from refrigeration systems, lighting, voice and data, audio/visual and closed circuit television--and later used those experiences to teach as an instructor in an electrical trainee program for four years.
Today, Keith continues his teaching passion as an Apprenticeship Instructor at WECA with duties that take him from teaching Ohms Law and load calculations, to proper conduit bending, and navigating trainees through Pythagorean theorems. "Working with students is rewarding, especially when I see on a student's face that look of understanding--it says you're connecting with them," said Keith.
When it comes to the electrician career field, Keith's favorite aspect is troubleshooting because of the deep thinking and problem solving aspects. "You really have to think things through to solve problems. It's similar for my students in their training process and satisfying to see because they're the future of skilled construction."
Keith believes "A law of success is setting the right goal. Another law is getting educated in that goal. I am committed to seeing every apprentice receive the best education toward achieving their goals."
Keith enjoys spending time with his family, playing trombone, and making homemade beef jerky.
Degrees, Certification/Licenses, Industry Involvement
- CA-Certified General Electrician
You may reach Keith at email@example.com
Steve Kappes brings a wealth of technical knowledge and career experience to WECA’s classrooms and labs. Originally from Sacramento, Steve has come full circle from career experiences and technical training that have taken him around the world, from the depths of the ocean and tours in foreign countries, to now sharing this knowledge in WECA’s Rancho Cordova training facility as the VDV/FLS Apprenticeship instructor.
After graduation from Mira Loma High School in Sacramento, he spent fourteen years in the U.S. Navy, much of that time on submarines, specializing in the maintenance and operation of submarine communications equipment. The Navy provided extensive opportunities to work on the latest technologies and equipment through its training programs and various technical schools.
Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Steve applied his extensive electronics and electro-mechanical skills at several companies, notably serving for several years as a Branch Service Manager for Simplex, at the time the industry leader in the fire alarm business. This experience gave him the opportunity to mentor and train technicians from diverse backgrounds and all levels of experience.
Steve lives in Sacramento with his wife Lisa, and daughter Abbie, a student at El Camino High School and a member of Sacramento Children’s Chorus. His family also includes two sons, both with professional careers of their own, and two grandkids that he sees whenever possible.
“I very much enjoy teaching. It’s a great opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with the apprentices,” said Steve. “I look forward to seeing students develop their skills and technical mindset as I teach and guide them through the courses.”
Steve currently carries certifications for both Fire/Life Safety and VDV, and has held a C-10 Electrical contractors license, as well as NICET Level III, Senior Electronics Technician certification in Fire Alarm Systems. He is factory certified for multiple manufacturer’s fire alarm, security, telephone and CCTV systems. His broad experience in the low voltage industry is a welcome addition to the WECA training staff.
You can reach Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Thompson is a Lead Curriculum Developer for WECA, with particular oversight of our Low Voltage apprenticeship program curriculum. He was born in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD and entered the electrical construction industry at the age of 14. Tom has worked at nearly every level of the electrical construction business and has become experienced in commercial and residential settings, as well as Fire Alarm and Low Voltage. He began running medium size commercial construction projects at the age of 18. Then after moving to Pocono Lake, PA in 2003, he opened his own electrical contracting firm and grew it to be one of the most well known commercial retail electrical firms in the Poconos.
Wanting to develop himself more and find a way to better contribute to the industry and his community, Tom began teaching at a trade school in Pennsylvania. Then in late 2011, Tom and his family decided that it was time for a real change. They decided to move the family to a dream location. After much deliberation as to where they would move, they settled on San Diego, CA and could not be happier with their choice.
In San Diego, Tom decided to go back to school and has obtained his Bachelor's of Science in Organizational Leadership and became a Certified Professional Life Coach. In addition, Tom has an electrical C-10 license, fiber optic, and electrician certification. He is a certified Low Voltage Technician and Fire Life Safety Technician in California. Additionally, he is a registered Master Electrician in the state of New Jersey.
Tom also runs an afterschool program called the Thompson Leadership Academy in which he teaches kids entrepreneurship and leadership. He has teamed up with Qualcomm and The San Diego Airport Authority in challenges that have inspired these young people to shoot for the stars. He has taken his work with kids one step further and also schedules public speaking engagements and workshops on the topics of leadership and entrepreneurship.
On the personal side, Tom enjoys anything that has to do with his family, whether it's heading to the beach, taking hikes, or heading to Sea World. Tom also loves running, weightlifting, and has recently taken up boxing. He says that it is the greatest sport he has ever practiced!
Tom loves to help others achieve their highest potential and is happiest when he can make a positive difference in someone's life. To him, life is a journey of never ending self-development that leads to a more honest and natural expression of yourself. Self development also gives you the ability to accomplish your dreams and goals. Anything is possible in life as long as we are willing to put in the work, aware of our natural abilities and talents, and realistic about where we are today.
You can reach Tom at email@example.com
Neil Pesarillo joined the WECA Apprenticeship instructional team with over 18 years of low voltage experience in the electrical industry, getting his start early in childhood by helping his electrical engineer father with household tasks. Hailing from Long Beach, Neil primarily teaches at the San Diego training facility. Neil brings some serious passion to the WECA team: "I'm fascinated with electricity--how it's created and what it does for everyone. Power and energy are a big part of our everyday lifestyles and being in the trade, being able to help others understand it and grow within the field, makes me feel I've done my part in helping our apprentices and future low voltage technicians and electricians move forward in making our communities and construction projects safer and more effective for all."
Neil began his career by working with satellite and cable installations as a field tech back in Long Beach, CA. He eventually started working for electricians who specialized in home automation and control. He then spent almost 12 years learning in-depth integration with Audio/Video, Security, Closed Circuit TV, Automation and Control, Data Networks, and programming to integrate all these special features together. Neil adds, "It really blows my mind to see how technology has changed and how it impacts us every day." Neil saw his opportunity to branch out into teaching after he gained a lot of experience training new employees in technical concepts, and in making client presentations. Neil's knack for helping others understand concepts and applications, paired with his energetic personality, makes him a natural instructor.
When it comes to his teaching philosophy, Neil expresses, "I was always taught to do work you can be proud of. My philosophy is to extend that same work ethic to others. I want students to leave feeling confident...so that they can apply the knowledge and practices in their daily routines." This passionate and dedicated instructor also added, "Get ready to learn something that will change your life and others around you. Our trade requires skill not everyone can handle and possess, but if you focus and dedicate the time and effort, you will be rewarded with knowledge and the ability to work anywhere in the world!"
Neil currently resides in San Diego with his wife, Michelle, their three beautiful children, and dog, Luna. They spend as much time as possible together bonding on the beach, making sand castles, surfing, and enjoying family dinner.
"I'm honored to be a part of this amazing team and am determined to help our organization develop strong individuals within the electrical and low voltage trades," Neil says.
You can reach Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to John Arias's broad base of knowledge and diverse industry experience, John will be teaching across all three of our apprenticeship programs: Commercial Electrical, Residential Electrical, and Low Voltage. He shares, "I am very excited to be the latest team member at WECA." John has been gaining experiences in the trades since he was young; with a plumber for a father and a carpenter for a mother, he's a tradesman through and through! He's worked with a number of California companies, including J&M Electric, Clark Custom Electric, S&J Ventures, Able Electric, and more. John also taught as a part-time WECA Get Wired! (Electrician Trainee Certificate Program) Instructor for years before transitioning to his current position with WECA!
So why did he want to move into full-time teaching? He explains, "I've always loved sharing what I've learned with others. It brings me great joy to see students and apprentices 'get it'."
He adds, "my teaching philosophy is to keep the students engaged with lots of hands on exercises. I believe people drawn to the construction trade tend to learn best by doing. Coupled with a quality curriculum and real world examples, this practice is a recipe for success....My advice to any apprentice is to do your best at any task given. Your efforts and ethics will be noticed."
In John's free time, he loves riding motorcycles with his wife of 25 years, and spending time with their six children. John would also like to add a special note of gratitude for his father, who taught him a strong work ethic and moral standards.
You can reach John at email@example.com.
San Diego-based Apprenticeship Curriculum Developer Talon Pobuda worked on residential solar installations and commercial construction before becoming an instructor with WECA. Talon started as a WECA GetWired instructor in 2017 before being hired full-time. In 2020, he transferred to the Curriculum Development team. Talon says, "I got interested in teaching because I found myself giving lessons on my jobsites and I really enjoyed it. So, I started looking for ways to make it part of my career."
Talon loves that there is always more to know in the electrical trade, which allows him to constantly expand his expertise when it comes to teaching. Talon believes in teaching his students to stay dedicated to and passionate about their careers, saying that although there may be less challenging paths to take, WECA's Apprenticeship programs can set an individual for life. Talon adds, "I'm really looking forward to making students into the best electricians they can be. And I hope to be able to help our members by making their apprentices more than just workers."
When not at work, Talon--who was raised in San Diego's North County area--enjoys hiking, flying light aircraft, and auto racing.
You can reach Talon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please welcome James Hall, Apprenticeship Instructor! After getting a Master of Science in Natural Resources Management and Wildlife Biology, James anticipated a very different career. But shortly after James completed his Masters, a friend offered him a position installing simple electrical systems, and the rest is history. Finding that he preferred the electrical field, he signed up to take the very first Get Wired course with WECA instructor Dan Bierly back in 2006. His successful progression through that program qualified him to join the WECA team as a part-time instructor by 2011. And now, he’s joined WECA full time. He adds, “I really wanted to give back to the program that has provided me so much.” James was also a tutor in college and a teaching assistant in graduate school, and teaching feels like a natural fit for him.
James and his wife moved to Sacramento in 2007, where James began commercial and industrial work. He was able to work on a wide variety of projects including commercial offices, retail, theaters, manufacturing, schools, and restaurants. For the past 6 ½ years, he’s also been working at Aerojet Rocketdyne. James states, “I started as an industrial maintenance electrician; however, for the past year I was a construction superintendent for infrastructure and manufacturing construction projects on the plant.”
James’s teaching philosophy is collaborative. He says, “I prefer to engage with students as a facilitator or coach….I like to ask a lot of questions and have stories shared--both theirs and mine. My goal is not only to teach someone to install a given light fixture, but also to teach them to read a wiring diagram and the cut-sheet so they can install any light fixture.” His advice for apprentices is: “The electrical field is wide open, and there is always something new to learn…view your time as an apprentice as an opportunity. Stay positive, patient, and be the one to volunteer.”
So what keeps him engaged in the trade through the years? James says, “I am fascinated by electricity. Electricity is all around us, and an important part of so many things. It occurs in nature, it is in our bodies, we use it to travel, to think, to build things, and simply live.” A wonderful point to share—welcome, James, and we wish you the very best of luck here with the WECA team!
You can reach James at email@example.com.
Raymond Newton has experienced most aspects of the electrical trade, from residential to full industrial systems, and has worked extensively in the water industry. Raymond previously built and maintained systems to produce clean water, and he found it rewarding to help others have access to clean water. He brings over forty years of experience as an Electrician to WECA, where he teaches out of the Riverside training facility.
Raymond’s teaching style focuses on integrating the hands-on training apprentices receive in the field with in-class preparation. He adds, “I teach the installation in our labs and apprentices put their training to further test at work in the field.” Raymond works to ensure his students learn their trade in the textbooks and the lab, so that they are effective and knowledgeable during their time in the field.
Raymond says, “Being an electrical contractor, I have seen the need for able apprentices and journeymen electricians. The electrical field is constantly changing. New metal alloys that have improved conductive and cooling characteristics, new safety ideas, and new equipment.” He felt inspired to teach apprentices early in their career, and now he does just that. Raymond says he loves educating the newest generation of electricians, and that one of the aspects he most enjoys is preparing apprentices for the state exam. Raymond says his advice to WECA Apprentices is to “always apply yourself with your best effort, because your best effort can be historic.”
Well said, Raymond!
You can reach James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s all come full circle for Galen Eckert, WECA’s new Lead Instructor for its Electrician Trainee and Continuing Education programs.
Eckert – a longtime Sacramento resident originally hailing from Cleveland, OH – spent a year in WECA’s Electrician Trainee program before joining the Apprenticeship program and graduating as the Commercial Apprenticeship Salutatorian of the class of 2013.
After graduating from WECA, Eckert spent “the majority of my career working for PB Electric in Rancho Cordova, where our main focus was industrial work like water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, lift stations, pump stations, newspaper presses, as well as projects for SMUD.”
Though Eckert enjoyed working in the field, there was a yearning to “come home”.
“My interest in working for WECA began as a student, because being an instructor ‘on the other side of things’ intrigued me,” said Eckert. “Plus, I always enjoyed teaching and training apprentices and co-workers in the field and thought, ‘Why not make it a full-time job?”
As Lead Instructor, Eckert teaches, sets up, and manages the GetWired! labs and its corresponding materials; works with instructors to resolve any issues that may arise; mentors his fellow instructors to be the best instructors possible; helps run the typical day-to-day aspects of the program; and acts as a confidant for instructors and students alike.
“When working in the field, I always took great pride in my hands-on work and my part in creating a perfect finished project,” said Eckert. “I now look to take my knowledge of the trade and pass it on to future electricians in hopes of helping them achieve their goals, maximize their potential, and become some of the best electricians around.”
Continues Eckert, “My personal philosophy is simple. I am honest, straightforward, and hardworking. And I’m always giving 100 percent to produce a product I can be proud of.”
In his personal time, Eckert enjoys building and driving his hot rods, and taking them to car shows and the race track. In addition to that, Eckert likes golfing, fishing, hiking, and stand-up comedy. And last – but not least – Eckert is a Clevelander at heart, stating that he is a “huge fan of all the Cleveland sports teams as well as The Ohio State Buckeyes as Cleveland is my true home.”
You can reach Galen at email@example.com
Franklin Tilley - GetWired! Instructor
Who said that retirement had to be boring? Certainly not Franklin Tilley – current part-time WECA GetWired! instructor, former longtime WECA Apprenticeship instructor, and forever champion for WECA and the electrical industry.
“I cannot wait to teach the GetWired! classes every night,” said Tilley. “I try to take real-life construction and safety situations from my past and help students so that they can work safely, do not have to learn from their own trials and errors, and can go forward with an eye to professionalism in building jobs that will be used for 100 years or more. I also try to instill in them ethics and morals, and standards of professional behavior that will set WECA graduates on the road to future success.”
Before Tilley started teaching at WECA almost twenty years ago, he did and continues to do it all – working on the electrical for Native American Indian reservations in Arizona; working for the State of California and WECA simultaneously; serving as president of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors in the early 1990s; and rallying the troops at WECA to recommend the need for state licensing of electricians in California to the California Legislature – which helped to get bills relating to mandated electrician training, as well as increased professionalism and safety in the industry, passed.
And teaching GetWired! courses online is not all that Tilley does with his retirement. He also teaches Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training classes for various law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and college nursing programs across the country, and occasionally gives NFPA 70E lectures at teaching and trade symposiums in Las Vegas.
In his downtime, Tilley enjoys writing letters and birthday cards to his 26 grandchildren – each peppered with tips and lessons on growing up in today’s modern world – and writing a family journal to ensure that his descendants understand that their ancestors were real people who had hopes, dreams, and success stories.
When reflecting upon his distinguished career, Tilley had this to say: “I worked for the state, but I taught for WECA for the sheer love of teaching, and the feeling that I was helping to make a difference for my students.”
And make a difference he does – both inside and outside of the classroom. He’s left – and will continue to leave – his mark on WECA and the California electrical industry for generations to come.
Bill Garr - GetWired! Instructor
At WECA, we pride ourselves on providing a comprehensive electrical industry education – thanks in no small part to our talented, knowledgeable, and passionate instructors. And we think that Bill Garr – third-generation electrician, Santa Rosa native, and one of our many talented GetWired! instructors – perfectly embodies these sentiments.
“I was highly interested in teaching for a long time due to the fact that WECA has the facilities and resources to reach out to the industry and instruct with great teachers, coupled with how awe-inspiring working with raw energy and construction truly is.”
Garr states that as a teacher, he loves that he “gets to interact with and show my passion and excitement for electrical theory, construction and science; reach multiple people at any given time online and in the labs, and that having the classes taught online coupled with the availability of the hands-on labs makes it [our curriculum] available for everyone on a personal basis.”
That, and Garr simply just loves “teaching electrical theory and code, which leads to helping people be better at what they do. My goal is to educate and inspire electricians, so that we leave and build a better place for all.”
It is, after all, in his blood.
“My grandfather and father were both electricians,” said Garr. “I first attended community college for general education credits toward an AA, and then I was a caretaker to my grandparents [along] with my father for a few years. After that, I joined WECA, took all the required Electrician Trainee (ET) courses, and received my Electrician Trainee program certificate through WECA.”
And it shows – Gar lists two crucial traits for electricians: curious and always learning – in his personal philosophy. But he also espouses the importance of being humble, respectful, honest, adventurous, and thankful for all opportunities.
When not educating and inspiring the next generation of California’s merit shop electricians, Garr partakes in an impressive repertoire of hobbies like practicing instinctual traditional archery, fly fishing, playing computer games, enjoying the outdoors with his dog, and working out at the gym.
Thank you, Bill, for being part of the WECA family and for continuing your family’s proud tradition of working in the electrical industry, as well as WECA’s proud tradition of counting alumni among its most dedicated instructors. We are thrilled to have a talented and well-rounded individual such as yourself on our team!
Andre Lewis - GetWired! Instructor
One of the things that we’re most proud of here at WECA is that many of our instructors are former students – as is the case with GetWired! instructor Andre Lewis.
Lewis – born and raised in San Diego – graduated from WECA’s Commercial Apprenticeship program in 2010. Prior to landing at WECA, Lewis gained experience retrofitting lighting for banks and warehouses.
And at WECA, Lewis “had the distinct pleasure and opportunity of being taught by some of WECA’s finest instructors – like Rick Labon, Rick Mortensen, to name a couple. And my fascination and love for what we do as electricians grew immensely into a passion which compelled me to give back via teaching for WECA, and to instill the same core values that WECA and their instructors diligently work at articulating and conveying to every student.”
WECA is lucky to have Andre – who also works as a maintenance electrician at San Diego State University – as a part-time instructor with our GetWired! program; we are inspired by his unbridled love and enthusiasm for the profession and teaching.
“Every day brings a new challenge, which in turn creates opportunities for new ideas,” said Lewis. “Working with some of the world’s greatest minds and developing new ways of approaching certain tasks fulfills my heart, and building confidence by exuding enthusiasm when students seem to have lost sight [of the goal] is the joy I find most rewarding with every lesson taught – both online and during labs.”
This is perfectly illustrated by one of his mottos: “Seeing is believing, and in most cases, only confirmed through practical applications.”
Lewis continued, stating that “learning how to effectively illustrate the language means being able to paint a picture so crystal clear you could almost touch it. It isn’t just a challenge, but another benefit to teaching online. These moments aren’t just a driving force for me – but what I enjoy most as an instructor.”
And when not inspiring and educating students online through the GetWired! program, Lewis predominantly spends his days off with his wife Ashley and his three children – Zechiyah, Andre Jr., and Drevione.