An Electrical Systems Technology student at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is energized about the career he will start at Georgia Power after graduation.
Landon Stephens, a Chattooga County resident, was a Dual Enrollment student who graduated from Chattooga High School in May 2022; he will receive his diploma at GNTC’s Spring Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 4, at the Dalton Convention Center. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m.
He said in the summer he will return to GNTC to take business classes and expects to complete his Technical Studies associate degree.
“Most of the time electricians work from high places, so this field forced me to conquer my fear of heights,” Stephens said. “Now I enjoy working from heights.”
Stephens currently works at Easter Electrical Construction Co. Inc. in Armuchee. He expects to start at Georgia Power on June 26 as an apprentice substation electrician where he will maintain substations across the state. He will be on a team dispatched to restore power after natural disasters.
He said he enjoys working with his hands, learning something new every day on the job and the developing a sense of comradery with his coworkers.
“Your coworkers will force you come out of your shell” because crews spend many hours working closely together, he explained. “You have to have good communications skills. If you don’t, someone could be hurt or killed.”
Stephens said he competed at SkillsUSA Georgia in TeamWorks (a team competition that combines carpentry, electrical, masonry, plumbing and roofing skills) throughout high school.
“SkillsUSA has been a big part of my life,” Stephens said. “I would encourage high school students to talk to their instructors about opportunities to compete in SkillsUSA competitions.”
His TeamWorks team competed at the high school level in state competitions his sophomore, junior and senior years. During his junior year, the team placed first in the state and competed at the national competition. During his senior year, the team placed third in the state.
He was unsure which trade he wanted to pursue as a career until speaking with some electricians sparked his interest in electrical work. He had applied to some colleges to study Electrical Engineering when his construction teacher encouraged him to consider attending GNTC, where he would be trained to do what he enjoys most about electrical work while getting a job in the field more quickly.
“I knew I wanted to be trained by someone like Scottie Carter because he’s a master electrician,” he said.
Carter is the program director, assistant dean and instructor of Electrical Systems Technology at GNTC. The program is based on the Gordon County Campus.
“Landon Stephens is the student that every instructor wants,” he said. “It is students like him that make our jobs as instructors satisfying. While he would have been successful in any career he chose, I feel privileged to be part of his journey.”
Carter characterizes Stephens as “a fine example of the partnerships GNTC has with our local high schools.”
“Landon completed all of his advanced-level general education core classes as a Dual Enrollment student in high school,” Carter said. “When he started at GNTC he was able to go directly into his occupational classes.”
Carter said “He has excelled in these classes and soaked up the information like a sponge. He has always been dedicated to completing his coursework on time.”
Stephens said he learned all about electrical work and to communicate effectively, use machinery and hone his interview skills at GNTC.
He told Carter that he wanted to compete at SkillsUSA at the collegiate level and started practicing all the time, he said.
Stephens placed second in Electrical Construction Wiring at the SkillsUSA Georgia collegiate competition earlier this year and considered the competition a “great experience.”
Stephens received GNTC’s Electrical Systems Scholarship and the Rome Home Builders Association Scholarship. Klein Tools recognized him for his outstanding achievements as a GNTC student, Carter said.
He was on GNTC’s President’s List for fall semester 2022. Carter spotlighted some of his other academic accomplishments, including earning 10 industry certifications from Greenlee, Ridgid and Snap-on through the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). He completed OSHA 30 safety credentials as part of his program.
Stephens will graduate with eight certificates related to Electrical Construction and Maintenance and Industrial Electrical Technology.
“The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) is the leading provider of industry credentials and resources for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the nation,” Carter said, adding that he uses NOCTI’s Electrical Construction Technology exam as his exit exam and for Student Learning Outcomes. Stephens scored among the top percentage of completers nationally and earned NOCTI’s Workforce Competency Credential, he said.
Despite his young age and serious job responsibilities, he feels grounded. He appreciates his family and friends for pushing him to succeed. He said he is also grateful to Carter and his high school construction teacher, Bengi Price, for teaching him and getting him involved in SkillsUSA.
“The fact that Landon was able to compete at such a high level, considering he just started his electrical career in August 2022, is a testimony to his commitment and determination,” Carter said. “For a 19-year-old man, these are some remarkable accomplishments and a real testament to his work ethic, his family and his faith.”