November 12, 2019 Sturgeon Electric Helps Prepare Autistic Students for Success in the Trades
MYR GROUP SUBSIDIARY TEAMS WITH T.A.C.T. TO COMPLETE ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION AT CSU’S TEMPLE GRANDIN EQUINE CENTER AT NATIONAL WESTERN COMPLEX IN DENVER
A team of Sturgeon Electric electricians recently provided hands-on training and mentorship to students from Teaching the Autistic Community (T.A.C.T.), the first and only trade program in the country developed for people who live with autism.
The two groups finished installing industrial fans at the Colorado State University (CSU) College of Agricultural Sciences’ Temple Grandin Equine Center at the National Western Complex (NWC) in Denver.
“We are so grateful to Sturgeon Electric for recognizing the amazing talent and strengths of our students, said T.A.C.T. Founder Danny Combs. “It’s through partners like them that we start tackling the unemployment rate of the autism community.”
According to AutismSociety.org, more than 3.5 million Americans live with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, and 25 percent of young adults with autism have not had a job or received post-graduate education after leaving high school. In total, the autism community has the highest rate of unemployment, estimated at 90 percent.
AN IDEAL PAIRING
T.A.C.T. aims to reduce these statistics. Acknowledging that many autistic individuals are strong visual learners and problem-solvers, the program introduces students to trade occupations because they are a great fit, Combs said. T.A.C.T.’s job placement rate: 86 percent.
When a T.A.C.T. student takes a job in the trades, the construction industry wins, too. Skilled tradespeople are in high demand in part because of the graying population of existing workers. According to careerprofiles.info, more than 60 percent of electricians are age 45 or older, and 62 percent of firms are struggling to fill important skilled trade positions.
Since Sturgeon Electric regularly promotes the benefits and career opportunities associated with trade occupations to high school students and young adults, this opportunity was a perfect fit — and a great success, said Sturgeon Electric Regional Vice President Joe Badaracco. He was instrumental in helping organize the Sturgeon-T.A.C.T. teaming. He oversaw every aspect of Sturgeon Electric’s involvement, from developing the technical drawings to ordering the materials, coordinating schedules, and enlisting volunteers.
“We were thrilled to be part of this project,” Badarraco said. “Not only did we help the center meet an important need, but we were also able to give these students ‘a day in the life’ experience and demonstrate what the future could hold in the electrical field.”
Sturgeon Electric Journeyman Travis Garman agreed. “The students were so helpful and interested in what we were doing,” he said. “I was so impressed with their work and the questions they brought to the table.”
Combs appreciated that the students were able to demonstrate their unique talents and abilities while gaining valuable hands-on experience, learning from the best in the business, and contributing to an important community resource.
“We had a fantastic time contributing to (the project) and were privileged to open doors for our students,” he said. “We look forward to doing more together.”
More importantly, the students themselves had a great time. Here’s what they had to say:
- “It was a fun learning experience in which I learned about safety and electrical work. I also learned just safety in general (and) how to use cool equipment.” — Gabrielle
- “I had fun communicating and learning new things. We got to use special gear that made us feel like we were actually working there.” — Tyler
- “I had a blast working with the team at the equine center installing ceiling fans. I got to work with cool people and pet horses at the end.” — Seamus
- “I thought it was spectacular to see the inner workings of electrical wiring — like the five copper wires inside the electrical conduit.
Combs and Badaracco said the Sturgeon-T.A.C.T. partnership was made possible by the following:
- The T.A.C.T. students who helped with the project;
- Debbie Mogor and Adam Daurio of the CSU Temple Grandin Equine Center; and the
- Sturgeon Electric team: Jason Prinz, area superintendent; Dan Hart, general foreman; Travis Garman, journeyman electrician; Greg Carrillo, service general foreman; Ross Milan, construction electrician; Jason Rath, general foreman; and Dimitri Floryance, apprentice.
ABOUT THE EQUINE CENTER CSU’s Temple Grandin Equine Center is a leader in equine science and occupational therapy research. With equine facilities at the NWC and in Fort Collins, the center is dedicated to equine-assisted activities, therapies, and research. Both centers are named for Temple Grandin, a CSU professor and world-renowned expert in humane animal handling and autism research.
Read more about T.A.C.T. by clicking here.
Read more about CSU’s Equine Center by clicking here.