Two important forces are affecting our industry: increasing system complexity and baby boomer turnover. To some degree the turnover issue has been stretched out as we all rethink retirement and age. However, the complexity issue will not go away, even it takes a bit to reach every corner of the system. I’m convinced that because of these two forces, we will all eventually need to become trainers.
Raoul Carrillo is an example of how both forces are unfolding. After a 35-year career at SCE, including time as a lineman, crew foreman, troubleman supervisor and technical specialist in the T&D Training department, he continues to train at Edison as a contractor. He has learned a great deal about instructing over the years, and we would all be wise to consider what he has learned in the trenches.
Raoul had to develop his own technique for knowing when he has truly connected with others. No connection, no learning. He has shared that it is necessary that those you are teaching and mentoring know that you are willing to go wherever it takes to make sure that they understand. As the saying goes, “They will want to know what you know, when they know how much you care.”
He has learned that half of the connection equation is based on how he comes across to others, including when and how to say, “I don’t know.” His humble but determined approach has helped hundreds of students, and he has become a model for other instructors to follow.
You will find Raoul’s profile –an Edison Chairman’s Award winner – delightful and encouraging reading.
Q: How does our current job and past experience translate into the classroom?
My current position helps me in teaching my courses in that I have access to transformers, electric panels, poles, trucks, tools, classroom space to help explain the material we cover in books and power points. My past experience enables me to lecture and then climb a pole or fly a bucket truck to demonstrate "real" world situations. Of course, some of our classroom examples can only be applied at actual work sites.
Q: How did you get into the power delivery Industry?
My decision to go into this career was strictly a fluke. After returning home from four years in the Army, I was still a bit wild. One Sunday morning, with my head hurting from too many Saturday night activities, my mother gave me a job opportunity flyer that came with our electric bill. She told me “take this, maybe it will will keep you out of trouble!" That was in April 1979 and I retired from the Electric company in November of 2013. Thanks Mom!
Q: Best thing about your job?
Best thing about my job now is the smile I see when the student that I'm teaching has a moment of understanding and insight. Priceless.
Q: What types of courses do you teach?
Because of the variety of positions I've held over a 30-year career, I’m able to teach a variety of different classes. The last course I taught was for transmission linemen, where we covered electrical theory and distribution circuitry. My next class will be instructing sixth-step apprentices, which is their final step, on distribution grid operations, (switching, operating circuit equipment e.g., automatic reclosers, P.E. gear, automatic switches) as well as the applicable operating rules and policies. This class also includes troubleshooting for both both primary and secondary systems.
Q: What one thing do you want your students to take away from your teaching?
One of the most important things I pass on to my students is that we are human and we that we will make mistakes. We try not to, but things do happen, both because of our own missteps and equipment failure. I teach them to try and think of all the possible "What if?” scenarios that can possible occur. I want them to be able to take the necessary steps in advance, before the situation becomes dangerous. Our work is unforgiving and it takes only one quick moment to become seriously injured. I also tell them to lean on their coworkers since they can be a great resource for information. I want to make sure that they are not afraid to say "I don't know," and that they seek the help they need to succeed.
Q: What are your hopes for your students' futures?
I feel that my experience in performing the craft as a lineman, combining both real work and book learning, helps to show the students how to read written material and then put it into practice in a real world setting. We think a better informed lineman will of course have the best chance to master their chosen trade. If they like the way they were taught then they will likely pass on their knowledge, including their observations about how they were taught in a respectful and mature manner. We hope our training process will actually be improved by each new generation.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I just keep busy. Dividing my time among anyone who needs extra training, tending to horses, getting my "Honey Do" list complete, traveling, and just being outside.
Q: Anything else to add?
As far as my teaching philosophy, I try to respect everyone that I teach. I know we all have great self-worth and I want to treat others in the same manner that I would like to be treated. If I don’t know I hope to say, “I don’t know,” and above all to not lie. I will tell them if I don't know, that I will have to do some homework and then get back to them. Most importantly, I try to tell always tell a story or joke to change a troubling attitude or situation, mostly using myself as the butt of the joke. Yes, I admit to many mistakes, but have hopefully learned from each and every one.