Delgado A-Z: Technical Division

By: Dee Shedrick
Students who prefer a vocational education rather than an academic one can receive their training at Delgado Community College. On Aug. 15, 2010 the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) Board of Supervisors merged with the Louisiana Technical College Region 1 (LTC) to form what we know today as the Technical Division. The division offers certifications and associate degrees in several areas, including

Electric line technology
     •  Carpentry
     •   Electrical technology
     •  Heating, ventilation, and air 
        conditioning/refrigeration (HVAC/R)
     •  Welding
     •  Motor vehicle technology
     •  Machine tool technology
     •  Cosmetology

and is located on the City Park, Jefferson and West Jefferson locations.

The purpose of the Technical Division is to meet the on-going needs and changes of business and industries by preparing students for in-demand careers and job advancement. "Some things have changed in the technical program because the industry has changed," said Luther Davis, coordinator of industrial trades at Delgado. "Years ago they just wanted a warm body that had a desire to work with basic skills. Now our industry partners are asking for our students to be more computer-savvy and well-rounded in math, English, comprehension, and literacy. There is also a big push for soft skills training because today's workers don't have the work ethic that workers had ten, twenty, thirty years ago." Therefore, along with skills training, work ethics classes are being integrated into the curriculum to teach students to be on time and to follow instructions.

Machine tool technology
"Everyone is not going to be a doctor; everyone is not going to be a lawyer, but many people are skilled with their hands," said Sterling Doucette, owner of Doucette & Associated Contractors, Inc. and graduate of Delgado in 1964. Doucette studied construction management, blueprint reading, and engineering, compliments of the Carpenters Local 1846. Historically, carpenters were thought of only as framers, who would just frame up a house. However, the carpentry program teaches everything from site layout, to clearing and surveying land. Carpenters also work on the foundation, install sheet rock, crown molding, flooring, counters, and cabinets. They do everything that is associated with building a house, from interior to exterior. 

The training carpentry students receive is a construction trade, so carpentry students work in conjunction with electrical technology students (who take the residential course) and heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration students (HVAC/R). When a home is being built, electricians come in after carpenters finish framing a house to install the wiring for electrical outlets, followed by HVAC/R technicians, who run the duct work for the central A/C system before the house is closed in. At some point, carpenters, electricians, and HVAC/R workers will be on the construction site at the same time because they all play an important role toward the finished product, a new home.

Students can go way beyond their residential electrician training, but the residential electrical classes are prerequisites for the more advanced training in electrical technology. Unlike a residential electrician, industrial electricians work in manufacturing and chemical plants, putting in motors and generators and working with large equipment. Lisa Pressley, who is already employed with D. Evans Electric, is completing the residential and commercial electrical programs. "My goal is to know as much as I can so I can branch out into any field," said Pressley. Beyond the residential and commercial electrician, the electric lineman generally works outdoors and installs, repairs, and maintains the power lines that provide the other technicians with the electricity they need. 

Electrical technology
Although the Avondale Shipyard is closing, welding is still needed in the region. Every industry uses metal, from automobiles to aerospace. Welders join metal parts together. And current welding students and local welders just have to get more extensive training to become a specialized welder to remain competitive. For instance, the shipyard employed third class welders, but now those same welders would have to be qualified as first class welders to do work on a bridge or a pipeline if they want to remain employed. "Students have to be better prepared and better trained to get an opportunity out there," said Davis.  

The largest number of students in the Technical Division are enrolled in the automotive program, with approximately 300 students. The use of vehicles in every life puts the demand for auto jobs through the roof. Automotive students have a vast range of options from being a mechanic, a car salesperson, or working in manufacturing. And speaking of manufacturing, Delgado's machinist program prepares students for the workforce making parts in a new 15,000 square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence located at the Jefferson site.

Motor vehicle technology
Meanwhile, on the West Jefferson site, students can acquire skills in hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, skin care, and make-up applications. “The training students receive in the areas of hair, skin, and nails in a full service salon atmosphere allows them to leave the program and go straight to work. The goal is to prepare the student for a flourishing career in the professional beauty industry,” said Larisia E. Jones, department head for cosmetology at Delgado.

One cosmetology student who already has her cosmetology license is Brandy Forstall. However, she will be graduating from Delgado soon with a cosmetology instructor training certificate. Forstall plans to work on the corporate side of the hair industry--by providing product knowledge to stylist and owners about the products that they use. Forstall wants to travel and teach for companies like Matrix, Chi, Kenra, or Rusk.

As much as things have changed, they have remained the same. Delgado was founded as a trades school for boys and continues to educate its students technically, as well as academically. "Many of our students go from a low economic scale to a middle income scale because of their skills training," said Davis. Delgado continues to have a positive economic impact on the New Orleans community.

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