Powering the Future — A Look into the Electrical Systems Technology Bachelor’s Degree
Many challenges face the electrical power industry today. Are there enough resources to generate energy to meet demands? Can this goal be achieved through clean energy? There is not only pressure on the industry to conserve existing energy resources and develop new sources; it must accomplish this in the face of an aging workforce that will need to be replaced.
The Electrical Systems Technology program at ACC is designed to train individuals to install, modify, maintain, troubleshoot, and perform functional tests on electrical grid systems equipment for employment in the fields of electric distribution, transmission, and generation. Students with an engineering mentality for designing and troubleshooting systems and those who are interested in computers will enjoy this program.
ACC created this program in 2016 as a way of bridging the gap between the utility technology field and the engineering field. Students who graduate from this program will be qualified to work at utility companies serving in roles that support the engineers, such as substation technician, relay technician, and system owner. At $350 a credit hour, students can earn their degree for far less than it would cost at a four-year university.
Musa Kabbah, a Liberia native who has found a second home in Alpena, will be graduating from the program in May 2022. Kabbah initially came to the Alpena area in 2015 as a foreign exchange student, and he immediately fell in love with the area and the kindness of everyone he met. He knew that he wanted to go into the electrical field, so when he found out that ACC had a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Systems Technology it was almost like fate was drawing him back to the area. Musa’s long-term goal is to get a master’s degree in either Power Systems or Renewable Energy Engineering. He plans to use what he has learned to fulfill his lifelong goal of helping to generate and distribute stable electricity to his home country of Liberia, where only 12% of the population has access to electricity.
Adrianna Sola, an Onaway native graduating in December 2021, plans to move to Southern Michigan to work for a utility company. “I can’t pick one favorite thing from the program when there is so much to love. I have met some of the greatest people — students and teachers — during my time here, and my classes with Mr. Lewis are a personal favorite of mine. He is easily the best teacher at ACC, and I have learned so much from him.”
While students may worry about the amount of math involved in the program, instructor Steve Lewis offers hands-on help to each of his students. “You don’t have to be top of the class when it comes to math classes, you just have to want to learn.” Lewis makes himself available just about any time of day to help his students feel comfortable with the material. “Mr. Lewis and the other instructors in the program are the best at doing their job,” said Musa. “I can guarantee you that you will never regret enrolling in the EST program.”
“I was extremely lucky to have Mr. Lewis as a teacher, tutor, and advisor,” said Adrianna. “I would recommend this program to anyone with a passion for math and a drive to get into the utility field without having to become
About the Program
This Bachelor of Science degree program is designed to train individuals to install, modify, maintain, troubleshoot, and perform functional tests on electrical grid systems equipment for employment in the fields of electric distribution, transmission, and generation. This includes grounding grids, power transformers, circuit breakers, lightning arresters, switches, and various protective relay equipment including electromechanical and microprocessor-based hardware. Students are able to take the majority of their coursework online and remotely! Online classes allow you to study when it's convenient for you, which means you can work while also working toward your future.
A significant percentage of the workforce in the electrical power distribution industry is nearing retirement age creating job opportunities as relay technicians, system controllers, and system operators. The American Public Power Association states, “Public power utilities employ thousands of people in a variety of jobs that combine public service and a technologically forward-looking industry. New technologies are being developed to generate, deliver, and use electricity; utilities are undertaking new environmental initiatives to meet and exceed customer expectations, and public power systems are becoming fast-paced public enterprises with competitive salaries. Many dynamic career opportunities are available for women and men with diverse educational backgrounds – from high school diplomas to advanced degrees.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows in November 2021 that workers classified as Power Distributors and Dispatchers earned an average salary of $89,090.
Contact the Program AdvisorSteve Lewis
Electrical Systems Technology Advisor