By IEC Staff
Jerren Reyes is a second year student at IEC Rocky Mountain and an Encore Electric employee who is looking forward to his future in the electrical industry.
This isn’t the culmination of a lifelong dream to enter the field but rather a career path that was chosen by Jerren after a run-in with ELMER his junior year in high school. ELMER, or Encore Learning and Mobile Escape Room, is an innovative trailer that gives young people the hands-on experience to help them discover their capabilities. ELMER travels to high schools and events throughout Colorado and invites prospective apprentices to participate in escape room challenges using everyday technology at electrical stations. Activities are timed, and the competitive spirit kicks in while students test their mechanical aptitude. Editor’s Note: See more on ELMER here.
“I didn’t know too much about electricity prior to ELMER,” Jerren says. “But it was a cool setup to see and understand how wiring works and how electricity flows throughout everything. Completing tasks, learning why things are done and how they’re done. Twisting wires for the first time was difficult but it was really satisfying. I wanted to learn more.”
Jerren was well positioned to move forward with those plans. Through his high school, he was already being introduced to construction as he was enrolled in the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC), a stand-alone college and career preparedness facility in the school district. CCIC is focused on aligning its offerings to seven in-demand and growing career pathways. Jerren was part of the Infrastructure Engineering (Building Trades) pathway. As part of his curriculum, Jerren was involved in building houses for the homeless in the area, including wiring up lights.
When he finished high school six months early, he met with an employer agent who contacted Encore. Encore selected Jerren to work with them and had him begin the IEC Apprenticeship Program.
Jerren is committed and hard-working. He adjusted back to a class routine while working fulltime with Encore. He attended class weekly on Thursdays and indicated classes usually focused on one topic a night.
“It really helped me stay focused,” Jerren says. “Working days with Encore alongside with school worked out well as it helped to be able to take in what I got from school and apply it to work and take what I learned from work and apply that in school.”
Jerren says his early work experience has been varied and enlightening. One project he worked on was new construction on the Colorado State University Hydro building. Hydro is a research center for all things water, offering a range of programs and initiatives focused on developing new technologies and approaches to conserve, protect, and monitor precious water resources. He also has worked on the Denver Museum of Nature & Science IMAX theater, the new Gaylord Hotel tower, some touch-up work at the Denver Broncos stadium, and a range of activities in the Encore prefab facility.
And, he conquered working in lifts.
“The first time was sketchy,” he adds. “I’m 30 feet in the air and I had to do work over my head. You have to be cautious carrying loads over your head. It was nice to overcome my fear of heights. Every time I’m on a lift now, I love it!”
Another learning opportunity he dealt with in first year was how to work with others, including those who may not be as patient as he would have hoped. Jerren knows this exists in all careers and feels prepared to face and work through such issues in the future.
In class, he has been grateful for lessons including those on code, building process, pipe bending, and math. He feels it’s a great group of students — including six others from Encore — and they all want one another to learn and be better.
“Everyone in the classroom is there to help each other if we don’t understand,” he says. “I’ve noticed that everyone cooperates with each other so everyone is on the same page and we can be successful as a class.”
Some might say Jerren is a supervisor’s dream. He gets up early so he has the time to stop for breakfast and get to the job site early. He doesn’t want Colorado traffic or weather making him late. He also wants time to prepare for what the day might bring.
Getting his journeyman’s license is his number one goal. Even this early in his career, Jerren sees becoming an estimator as a strong possibility.
“Adding numbers isn’t really that difficult for me; setting up calculations and organizing items — I think that would be a nice job for me in the future,” he says.
Another option he feels would fit him is to be a foreman in a prefab shop. He says Encore gave him early responsibilities in this area to train new apprentices, work on panels and transformers, learn to order, assemble, and send out materials to meet rigid deadlines.
“I always want to help prepare everyone for what’s coming,” he says. “I think being a foreman would be great.”
Challenge Accepted….and Met
Jerren worked on lighting installation for the Colorado State University Hydro build.
“There wasn’t a process or kit to mount the lights under the curved trim,” Jerren explains. “I came up with a way to do this using plumbing strap. We drilled those up into the lights and straight to the dry wall and spread those straps along the lights so all is evenly supported.”
Jerren indicates there was some pressure to come up with that solution and get the work done so the tile could be placed in time for inspection.
It was completed on time and inspection went on successfully. Way to go Jerren!