As a child, Steve Blume was curious about electricity, which eventually led him to receive a master’s degree in electrical engineering. After spending many years applying the knowledge he learned in college, and figuring out first-hand how things worked, he decided to give back by helping students learn the “magic” of electricity in a fun, engaging way.
Now Blume is a training advisor for SOS Intl, a provider of training and compliance services to the power industry. T&D World visited with Blume about how he is sharing his knowledge and what’s coming up.
Q: How does your current position help you in training —and how does your past experience help you in this role?
Working for a successful training company like SOS gives me an opportunity to achieve one of the goals in my life - helping students understand how the electric power system operates. I share information that is useful, important, and relevant to the men and women who operate the grid.
By having a rewarding career in both the electric power and telecommunications industries, I can support SOS’s mission to develop and deliver effective training. I always look forward to the opportunity to give back to those that need a good foundation. Being an instructor, course developer, subject matter expert, and team player enables me to contribute quality training for SOS’s students.
Q: Why did you decide to go into power?
I’ve always been fascinated with the science of electronics, electrical power, and telecommunications. I knew I was hooked on electronics when I became an amateur radio operator in middle school. While in college, I repaired televisions. These technical jobs, coupled with my engineering degree, steered me into the training field.
Q: Best thing about your job right now?
The best thing about my current job is being able to work with people who appreciate learning about how things work and helping them apply practical principles to their jobs.
Being a training advisor is having logical conversations with people who enjoy what they do each day. It’s helping them accomplish complex projects in a meaningful and cost effective way. Each customer and each student is different. I like the diversity of responsibilities this job allows me - travel, student and customer relationships, exposure to varying levels of knowledge and experience.
Q: What courses have you taught in the past, and what’s coming up?
As founder of APT Global and APT College, a nationally accredited college and training institution that serves the telecommunications, electric power, and renewable energy industries, I’ve had the opportunity to develop and teach many technical courses. SOS acquired the power division of APT Global last November. I plan to continue working as an instructor and subject matter expert for SOS in courses that include: Power System Basics, System Protection, Smart Grid, Electrical Safety, and Renewable Energy.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your past experience as a trainer that you want to communicate to trainers, students or participants?
I think it’s very important to focus on the needs of the students. They rely on instructors for knowledge, training, and understanding. The very least an instructor can do is to provide the tools they need to succeed. I always start class by asking the students what they came to learn. I want to ensure my training isn’t a waste of their time. It’s a basic training principle – one that I think is important to communicate with other trainers, students, and participants.
Also, being organized and familiar with training content is a must for trainers. In addition, sessions are more successful when everyone is aware of the training objectives and agenda. When students are successful, I feel successful.
Q: Why do you think your particular job as a trainer is important to the industry? How does it help the students and the utilities?
I believe the electric industry needs technical leaders that know how to train, present complex concepts in simple to understand terms, and ensure information presented is applicable to the needs of the students’ jobs.
There is always room for good trainers that truly understand the utility industry from an operational and technical point of view. I try hard to provide that service. As the electric power industry changes, especially in high tech areas, trainers that recognize and understand trends are always in demand. I strive to keep up with the latest technology and offer practical applications in my training classes.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy being with my very large, active family. I have six children and 15 grandchildren. You can usually find us having fun at the beach, playing a friendly game of football, eating, and just hanging out together.
Although I love all aspects of electrical engineering, I also enjoy tinkering around the house, driving fun cars, building things that come natural to electrical engineering geeks, and keeping up with the latest technology.
Q. Anything else you would like to add about your training philosophy?
A training career isn’t for everyone. But if you enjoy it and you’re good at it, then you can be successful and have fun at the same time. Perhaps it runs in the family because four of my five daughters received teaching degrees in education, and my son is an electrical engineer. They see how much I enjoy training and they decided to follow in my footsteps.