Electricity instructor encourages students to use their skills to serve others
Moraine Park Technical College
Mike Melaney values volunteering. He spends his off work hours leading groups of high school and college-aged youths on service trips to various locations throughout the United States. Some of the church-sponsored trips involve construction, other times participants serve people in “soup kitchens” or daycare centers. After Hurricane Katrina, Melaney worked with youths to rebuild people’s homes.
"These experiences give them a better sense of people in need," he commented.
A master electrician, he has owned and operated an electrical contracting business for 17 years. A dean from Moraine Park Technical College thought that experience would be valuable to students and asked Melaney to join the faculty.
"I didn’t want to be a teacher at first. But I found I enjoyed it a lot," Melaney admitted. "I learn a lot myself."
Melaney has been a full-time instructor since 1998. Currently he teaches the one-year electricity technical diploma program. This pre-apprenticeship program develops basic knowledge and skills in residential, commercial and industrial electricity.
The students’ learning begins in the lab at the MPTC West Bend campus. However, Melaney finds ways to give them meaningful, practical experience outside the classroom through volunteering in the community.
Under his supervision the students have done electrical work for Habitat for Humanity, a local nature conservancy, and a youth hockey facility. "We don’t want to take work away from local contractors so we only help non-profit organizations," Melaney explained.
Working in a real residential, commercial or industrial building gives the electricity students valuable experience in problem solving as they face challenges in a "closed structure."
"Nothing is checklist or textbook," Melaney said. "Like I learned in the military you have to improvise, adapt and overcome." These skills are valuable to employers.