For the past 10 weeks I have been teaching a "Basic Home Wiring" course at a local UAW automotive plant. This class was open to active and retired employees and I had about 21 students. All were eager to learn and understand the basics of their residential wiring system. Some did better than others as far as grasping the concepts of basic electricity but all of them demonstrated enough understanding to respect the dangers involved and the consequences of getting in over your head with a home project. I was shocked to learn at the end of the class that one student who seemed to have the most trouble understanding the basics was a 3rd year apprentice electrician. While I realize that industrial and residential are two different electrical worlds, there are some basic principles that apply to both. I guess it is harder for me to see the big difference because I was brought along with equal portions of industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural electrical training and experience. For a long time I thought all electricians could wire a 3Ø assembly line on Monday and install a 200A service and rough in a home on Tuesday. I know now that is not always the case. Some electrician's expertise is limited to the area in which they were trained. This particular student will probably never need to know anything more than he is being trained for to do his job well. But after taking this class he realized he needs to know a lot more before he tackles wiring his new house. At least one person learned something from this class.
Yeah, it's funny in a way, when I was getting industrial experience in WI, I was really impessed with a 4th year apprentice named Jason. As far as motor controls, and bending rigid and IMC, this guy would run circles around me.
It all came into perspective one day when he asked me about three way switches... He hadn't a clue!
I'd never let a resi-only electrician near motor controls by himself, but never thought that a sparky good with control work would have trouble with a simple SPDT switch!
-Virgil Residential/Commercial Inspector 5 Star Inspections Member IAEI
When I took courses at a local technical school I was surprised to find out the varied backgrounds of the students in the basic Residential Wiring course in particular.
Besides the 'usual' types of people that you would expect to find there (Adult Ed courses) I was surprised to find out that we had some Engineers and Utility workers (Linemen) in the class. One Utility worker told us a little about his duties as a lineman and admitted that he really didn't have much understanding of the electrical system after it entered the house. One engineer explained that he had good theoretical understanding of electricity but no practical experience or knowledge of how to make things work (safely & by code) except on paper.
I used to think I could train a monkey to do residential service work until I tried to train a 40 year old human. I now know that if a trainee isn't catching on with in a week or two, they never will. Maybe it would be easier to train monkeys.
Bill, I recently spent 30 minutes trying to explain to an electrical engineer how it was posible to add a 100 amp sub-panel by removing 2- 15amp breakers and replacing with a 100 for the sub. He kept trying to tell me that it would be limited to the 15 original amps. After we got past that, he tried to argue that we would be stealing power from the rest of the house. He finally gave in and just let me work.
[This message has been edited by Electric Eagle (edited 06-15-2002).]
Long ago, an inspector came to my job, and he still had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard.
Seems a homeowner had taken a permit to wire his basement. When the inspector got there, this fella had is EE degree, and his state PE stamp conspicuously displayed. The inspector got to the bottom of the steps, followed closely by this guys wife, who extolled the virtues of this guys wiring.
"Well, ya gotta lotta phone outlets down here" the inspector said, "but where's the electrical outlets?"
Yup, the genius had used phone cable for his outlets, seems he read in the code that outlets are designed for 180 va and he knew that the phone cable would hold that
The bar-none best and easiest guy I ever had to train as a partner had worked behind the counter of an electrical supply house for ~5 years. He knew exactly the names and sizes of everything, and took to it all outstandingly. He had always wondered from behind the counter how it all fit together, and although I wouldn't have guessed it, he was a piece of cake to train.
Well, I hope I don't step on any toes, but here goes nothing. (I claim immunity by emphasizing that I'm looking at this from a British training point of view, of course. )
I've run across people who seem to have been taught how to install a circuit, test a component, etc., but they don't seem to know why they're doing it. In other words, they don't seem to have been taught the underlying basic theory behind the practice.
As mentioned above, we have guys who wire an industrial plant for a living, but they can't figure out how to add a pair of foglights to their car.
I'm firmly of the opinion that we should always try to understand why we are doing something instead of just accepting that "that's the way it's done."
A good, thorough knowledge of the basics makes it so much easier to apply those basic concepts to any new situation.
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 06-16-2002).]