Twelve IBEW members graduate
from Pace University through the NACTEL program this month—the
highest representation of the union to date in this online
associate’s degree program in telecommunications.
||Left, Sister Amy Palmer, Local 206,
and right, Brother Joe Fleming, Local 716.
|Other IBEW members in NACTEL’s
Class of 2003 are: Derrick Caldwell, Robert Crosio, Alan
Dudinsky, Robert Grimm, Luis Llano, John Mazurek, Dan
Rumbold, Lisa Schafer, Dennis Smith and Steven Sestito.
which stands for the National Coalition for Telecommunications
Education and Learning, was created by the IBEW and the Communications
Workers of America along with company partners Verizon, SBC,
Qwest and Frontier/Citizens to prepare students for advanced
technical positions in the industry. At the time the coalition
was created in 1999, the industry faced a projected shortfall
of over 60,000 telecom technicians. Now that the industry
is experiencing bankruptcies and layoffs, a NACTEL education
is proving valuable as a way of helping employees keep themselves
‘employable’ as well as helping them advance in
The program consists of an associate’s degree in Applied
Information Technology-Telecommunications and two certificates,
Introduction to Telecommunications and Telecommunications
Essentials. The instructor-led program is taught entirely
over the Internet and is geared to telecommunications technicians.
Verizon Facilities Technician Robert Crosio, member of Local
827, East Windsor, New Jersey, says his decision to enroll
in NACTEL was an easy one. Tuition assistance was part of
his benefits package, and he appreciated the convenience of
learning online. "I definitely learned a lot of things
I didn’t expect to learn ...and the instructors were
great." Crosio also felt that having a college degree
is an important asset in today’s uncertain job climate.
Luis Llano, a Verizon customer sales associate-retail markets
and member of Local 824, Tampa, Florida, entered the program
to pick up more skills in telecom technologies. "I liked
the flexibility of being able to take classes when it’s
convenient for me", says Luis.
Dennis Smith, an analyst with Verizon and member of Tampa
Local 108, was searching for a degree program of this kind
and couldn’t find a comparable program that focused
on the industry. "I think it’s a great degree,"
says Smith. "And the fact that the union was involved
was important to me." He plans to use his degree to move
into the operations side.
Other students entered the program with the goal of gaining
more technical knowledge in order to improve their performance
in their present job.
Joe Fleming of Local 716, Houston, Texas, first heard about
NACTEL in a past issue of the IBEW Journal. He is a senior
network professional with USAA and works closely with all
phases of network communications. Fleming enrolled in the
program to be "better able to do my job." He said
he feels the program has given him a broader understanding
of the telecommunications world, from the point of origination
through to the worldwide distribution of services.
Qwest Sales/Service Consultant Amy Palmer, member of Local
206, Helena, Montana enjoys her job handling customer service
calls but felt that her business degree wasn’t giving
her all she needed to help customers. Her NACTEL studies have
made a difference. "Certainly when I speak to our customers
now I have a better understanding of the problems they may
be facing. I think I’m better at doing my job because
That also applies to Dan Rumbold, member of Local 723, Fort
Wayne, Indiana, and senior metrology technician at Verizon.
He has over 15 years in the industry but needed more technical
knowledge to help him do his job, which is repair and calibrate
a variety of test equipment. "I wanted to find out what
the equipment was used for," said Rumbold.
Students have found that the program gives them a broader
understanding of the intricacies of telecommunications technologies
and how things inter-relate. "This gave me the explanation
of why something works the way it does," says Alan Dudinsky,
customer zone technician for Verizon and of Local 1637, Erie,
That expanded knowledge of the industry, plus the college
degree, has helped these newest NACTEL graduates prepare themselves
for whatever the future may hold. Most have been able to apply
what they’ve learned in their current jobs and have
made themselves more valuable to their employers. But, if
a job change is needed, they’ve earned a valuable college
degree. And, all have learned more about the industry that
For more information on NACTEL please visit: http://www.nactel.org/ibew.
To learn about the upcoming semester courses and to register
for classes, please visit: http://csis.pace.edu/nactel.