When I heard about WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colorado it immediately piqued my interest. In fact, so much so that I jumped on a plane and flew to Denver. My hotel was a picturesque stone’s throw from the Coors Brewery – and right on the stream that supplies the facility with its famous mountain spring water.
Kyle Conroy is the manager of the Electric Power Training Center. The school is a part of the Western Area Power Administration and through a cooperative federal arrangement, also trains employees from the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corp of Engineers and other federal agencies. At times, where there is available seating, utilities and the general public are invited to attend.
Kyle has a unique and particularly thorough background to manage the school. He learned the line trade while in the U.S. Air Force and, critically, was also extensively trained as an instructor. After his discharge, he was hired by Gulf Power as lineman, before transferring to Savannah Power and Light to work in Operations and Planning. His next to last stop was at Tri-State Generation and Transmission as a senior system operator and trainer. He transferred to WAPA in 2015. Along the way he earned a degree in occupational education and an M.S. in adult education and training from Colorado State University.
His experience spans linework, planning, engineering and operations and when combined with his education and training, it is clear that he is in the right training job. The Electric Power Training Center is well positioned to serve the needs throughout the Western United States and beyond. He is quick to share that he is still learning, but we are glad that he is sharing his knowledge too. It is our privilege to interview him personally as well as to highlight the Electric Power Training Center.
Q: How does your current position and past experience help you in teaching courses?
In my current position as the Manager of WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center (EPTC) our group teaches a variety of System and Power Plant Operations related training. Although my primary role is no longer that of providing instruction, I do fill in from time to time as needed, due to personnel shortfalls. When I am needed to teach (present material) I draw on my past experience as a U.S. Air Force-trained instructor and several years as a Power Dispatcher/Trainer, as well as my education in adult education and training and have participated in multiple industry-related train-the-trainer workshops and seminars.
Q: When and why did you decide to go into the utility industry?
My introduction to the electrical utility industry began as a U.S. Air Force Electrical Power Lineman 35+ years ago. Why? Because being a lineman rocks! My transition into the world of training also began in the Air Force when I was voluntold I would be an Electrical Power Lineman Training Instructor – which I did for several years before transitioning to the civilian industry. As a civilian I have worked as a lineman as well as a distribution and transmission operator, and finally found myself back in the training arena as a power operations specialist (power dispatcher trainer). This ultimately led me to the opportunity to manage the EPTC.
Q: Best thing about your job right now?
The best thing about where I am right now is the opportunity to take a proven training center and associated programs and continue to build upon them. Using the culmination of my education and experience, I have integrated systematic and analytical methods to the courses and programs at the EPTC, as well as incorporated new instructional technologies and practices (ie: distance and blended learning methodologies).
Q: What courses/sessions have you presented in the past, and what’s coming up?
From my initial indoctrination into training adults, I have taught all courses offered in the USAF Power Linemen Training had to offer. I have also been involved in developing and delivering Switchman Qualification Training as well as other Dispatcher/Transmission System Operator related training for NERC Certification Continuing Education requirements. Along the way I have worked with various teams for Train-the-Trainer seminars and other workshops.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your past experience that you want to communicate to students or participants?
If you apply the process– a systematic approach or instructional system design model - the product will deliver value. Always remember that training products are living and evolving, ever-changing as a result of continuous evaluation and improvement.
Q: Why do you think your particular subject is important to the industry? How will it help your students?
As a leader, my job is to empower our training professionals to be good teachers of their expertise. I recommend the trainers in our industry receive training in a multi-phased approach that starts with teaching the subject matter experts (SME) the intricacies of learning delivery. This will better enable them to transfer their knowledge and skills to the future SMEs in the classroom, lab, or real-world learning environment.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to fish and golf a little – purely therapeutic! But, given the opportunity I like to spend time with any or all of my five daughters, or even better yet with my five grandsons! While my intent is to escape there is always opportunity for learning – it is not uncommon that my grandsons teach me a thing or two.