All Stars 2019





Apprentice Electrician

Price Electric

Robins, Iowa

Watch Duncan’s story

What do you do as an apprentice electrician?

By preplanning and prebuilding, or “prefabbing,” as much

as possible in a very controlled environment, with bigger

and better tools, and with more access to hardware and

support, we can save an uncountable number of hours in

fieldwork, minimizing risk and making buildings go up faster.

That is my job. This includes small things – like wiring outlets

and switches, precutting wire, and landing wire into residential

panels – all the way to building pipe racks for an entire

building, temporary power stations and even complete

traffic intersections. If we thought that it would save time, we

would do it.

Why did you choose the architecture, construction and

engineering (ACE) field?

My entire life I knew I would need a career that allowed me

to do work with my hands. I couldn’t sit at a desk all day.

When I was offered an internship, later a job, with Price, I

knew I couldn’t turn it down. My workplace learning experience

is the absolute best thing about my job. There

are constant classes to learn about any aspect of being an

electrician. And Price is very good about having the more

experienced teach anyone who asks about anything. I

recently learned about wiring controls, something I’ve been

interested in since I first saw a diagram for them.

What has been your career pathway to your current job?

My career started when I was 15 and was offered an internship

with Price, and it started in an unconventional way – by

sweeping floors, cleaning, filling the gas in trucks and taking

out the trash. It was not enjoyable in the slightest way for a

15-year-old, but I stuck with it and ended up enjoying my

job far more than I ever thought. I took a few classes at Kirkwood

while I was in high school, mainly because I wanted

to take advantage of all the opportunities for learning that I

could get. And Kirkwood has some of the best ACE programs

around, is very affordable and is well-respected.

What are some of the challenges you experience on

the job?

There are more challenges than I can count, and that’s an

aspect of my job I really like. You wake up before dawn, go

to work eight to 10 hours a day, five to six days a week, and

every hour you face a new problem. Where is my pipe going

to go? How am I going to fit everything I need into this tiny

space? Why is this plumber in my way? And it’s more than

mental challenges. There is an amazing amount of physical

challenges too: the long hours, heavy lifting, standing/walking

all day long, etc. But the worst is the weather. I’ve gone

to work in -20 weather, in 100+ weather, in rain, snow and

storms. But those challenges have made me who I am, and I

cannot imagine my job without them.

What does it take to be successful in your line of work?

Ask for help and work hard. And remember: Your attitude

matters. I had a 110-pound vegetarian woman outwork a

220-pound guy who was built like a linebacker because

she had a better attitude. Most of the time there will be

on-the-job training, which means you’ll be paid to struggle

through hard and annoying work. If you don’t have an

attitude that allows you to fail, you will not learn from the

inevitable failures.

If someone isn’t sure if the ACE sector is the right fit,

what should they do to check it out?

Do internships. Talk to people in the trade. Ask all the questions

you can think of. Most people love to talk about what

they do and will gladly offer advice.

6 2019 ALL STARS of ICR

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