Steve Dosal: 'Sit Still…. And Get Left Behind'

Aug. 16, 2012
My career with Tampa Electric Co. started in the power plant.

Steve Dosal, manager of Tampa Electric Co.’s Energy Delivery Environmental and Skills Training Department, is a member of and supports the Inter Utility Substation Training Association. He and his company hosted the Spring IUSTA Meeting in Tampa this past May. The purpose of IUSTA (Inter-Utility Sub Station Training Association) is to promote increased efficiency and effectiveness of training for substation and switching personnel through the exchange of ideas and information. The scope of activities includes safety, communications, operations, maintenance, general work practices, and policies related to training. Dosal will attend the fall meeting as well, Oct. 23-25, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Dosal shares his story below, including how he has contributed to training up substation professionals, linemen and field engineers:

I have been in the electric utility industry for more than 31 years. My career with Tampa Electric Co. started in the power plant. As a laborer, I swept floors or scraped barnacles within the saltwater cooling tunnels. But I felt I needed a more challenging career path, so my thoughts turned to the line department and the idea of becoming a journeyman lineman. After nine months, a bid opened up that I was fortunate enough to make. I was finally on my way. I started out as a groundman truck driver and soon after, progressed into the apprenticeship program. I was hungry for knowledge and strived to emulate those who demonstrated exceptional job skills and knowledge and who were good teachers. After becoming a journeyman lineman, I had the opportunity to share my knowledge with those that followed.

Sharing my knowledge was what I enjoyed the most about my job. Watching young apprentices develop their skills and learn to work safely while taking pride in their work was extremely gratifying for me. .

After 15 years as a journeyman, I was promoted to supervisor, spending much of my time working with young design engineers. While collaborating with this team, I learned much in areas of design construction and permitting. In exchange I shared my practical field experience to help improve productivity and create better communication and understanding between the line crews and engineering efforts. .

After four years as supervisor in energy delivery line construction and maintenance, a vacancy came about for supervisor of lineman skills training. It just fit… I took the position; evaluating new hires, training the curriculum, and looking for ways it improve them both. A few years later, our company saw the need to expand our substation, field engineering and line departments. With this expansion, a manager was needed to “amp-up” the training department and put together a team of new trainers and curriculum that could provide current information and updated methods. I was selected for the position and have never looked back. With a great team and improved curriculum we have produced tremendous results for our students. .

In addition to my full-time staff, I have found that using company retirees part-time for peaks in training also has great merit other than just training the curriculum. They naturally transfer lost knowledge and spur solid organizational and cultural foundations. .

We continue to strive to meet the challenges of the new generation by experimenting with new methods and technology. Back then, training had always been done with paper training manuals, and was thought to be the best way to deliver information. Thinking was: that craft folks were not ready for technical challenges using computers. The new generation told us different,: With upper management support, we have now streamlined our processes and engaged our students via the I-Pad.

My team and I are involved in various trainer forums that include S.E.E., IOUTA and the new founded IUSTA program. All of these members are open to sharing ideas on everything from accident prevention to new tools and products. We compare training facilities and methods as well. I have yet to find a better means to gather relevant information and challenge trainers to excellence. These forums re-energize us all and make us proud of our facility and training programs. .

It's easy to fall behind in training; you must stay current with new methods, policies or rulings. All of this information must be captured in a timely and accurate manner. These updates are critical for every new employee that comes through the door tomorrow.

The most rewarding part of my job is student graduation day. Each year, our new craft journeymen and spouses celebrate this victory at a formal banquet. This is highly supported by our vice president who fully understands the hard work and dedication required to complete our apprentice programs. He personally attends and delivers certificates and the key note speech. .

A real boost for us has been in our partnership with local colleges. An extensive evaluation and validation of the Power Pros training programs offers our students 33 credit hours towards the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Professors from three universities offer evening classes at our training facility. This makes it very easy for our employees to attend. Continuing education for our students will ensure a strong workforce is in place for the advanced systems and requirements of the future.

For me, this overall philosophy does not end with mentoring apprentices. As manager of Tampa Electric Co.’s Energy Delivery Environmental and Skills Training Department, I have returned to college with my apprentices and am nearing the completion of my degree.

When I am not studying for class, I revert back to my multifaceted roots, enjoying my family, fishing, flying, auto restoration projects and my annual hunting trips to Alaska.

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