“Most of our low voltage contractors deal primarily with either data systems (computer and telecommunications cabling and equipment) or fire alarms and other systems that would fall into the ‘life safety’ category”, said Kappes. “As a consequence of that focus, our labs have been arranged and equipped to introduce our low voltage apprentices to these two primary areas of interest.” Thanks to Kappes’ efforts, low volt apprentices will benefit from intensive - but supportive - learning in a lab with a variety of complex yet interoperable systems like the ones encountered in the field. “The more exposure we give to our students in the relative safety of the classroom and lab, the more comfortable they will be out in the field approaching a new installation,” said Kappes. “Most of our systems are very basic, simple systems. This way we can teach the fundamentals of systems before the students are out in the field confronting a complex piece of equipment they’ve never seen before. But confidence isn’t the only thing apprentices will gain, according to Kappes. “The more diverse the equipment and installation techniques an apprentice is exposed to in the classroom, the more confident they are in their abilities to install a system they may be unfamiliar with. And the more confident they are, the more valuable they will be to a current or prospective employer,” said Kappes. Moving forward, Kappes hopes students will build upon the experience they’ve gained in the classroom and successfully apply it in the field. “One of the keys to being successful is the ability, 8 2018 WECA Year In Review/2019 90th Anniversary Year Audio Theory, 70-volt commercial audio systems, and pro audio systems. Apprentices calculate and measure how decibels decrease with distance from a speaker and determine the number of speakers that a given amplifier can power. Students also set up a pro-audio system where they connect different sound sources and adjust the sound to optimal settings to maximize the system. • Nurse Call/Area of Rescue Assistance Systems: Tek-Tone 8 positions Apprentices will work on lab exercises for the equipment, including working with the multiple small gauge wires used throughout the system • Future: Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA); Brand TBD Number of positions TBD These systems are becoming common in computer rooms and “clean” rooms, thus we would like to purchase and install one or two of these systems to familiarize fire alarm technicians with them. • Future: Open-area smoke imaging detection (OSIS); Brand TBD Number of positions TBD This is a fairly recent development in smoke detection technology. These are predominantly replacing projected beam detectors. These systems are also typically used in large, open areas, such as theaters, gymnasiums, and warehouses. “There’s really no comparison [to the old lab]”, said WECA low volt instructor Steve Kappes. “[The old lab] comprised approximately 570 square feet, about the size of a one-car garage. The walls were lined with 16 fire alarm panels, with only half being used at any given time, and the ceiling was a maze of conduit and junction boxes connecting the panels to one another.” The redesign will also allow students to work simultaneously, utilize workbenches for tabletop applications, and store tools, parts and equipment in a locked storage area. Kappes said that such a redesign was essential to students’ continued success both in the classroom and on the job site.