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Student clinic: Waukesha brings future technicians on-line.


When Waukesha County (Wisconsin) Technical College polled the leading industries in the area to find out what skills employers wanted their employees to have, they discovered a strong demand for qualified telecommunications technicians.

As telecommunications equipment became more sophisticated, better trained personnel were needed to install, maintain and repair the rapidly expanding public and private communications networks. Because communications is a critical item for every business, and because the field offers real benefit to business and to program graduates, the college decided to implement an associate degree in electronic telecommunications.

Working closely with Wisconsin Bell and private-network users, Waukesha Tech developed a comprehensive course program to train students who could leave the classroom with the skills needed to provide immediate service to their employers' companies. The core program courses include fundamentals for both voice and data, switching systems such as key systems and PBX, high frequency components including microwave antennas and fiber optics, and systems courses which cover D4 channel banks, LANs and ISDN.

Ahmed Gipril, an instructor for an electronic telecommunications technician program, is pleased with the program's success so far.

Over 80% Placement

"We are seeing a placement rate for our graduates of over 80%. In addition to our normal day courses, Wisconsin Bell and Waukesha County Technical College have created a 'Ready-Tech' training program to meet Wisconsin Bell's requirement for skilled telecommunications technicians," Gipril says.

The Ready-Tech program is sponsored by Wisconsin Bell for their employees.

The employee attends training seminars at the college Friday, Saturday and Sunday for six semesters. The seminars are designed to keep technicians abreast of the latest changes they will encounter in the field.

Waukesha County Technical College focuses on making the training as close to the real world as possible. Recognizing that the majority of a technician's time will be spent in maintenance and repair, heavy emphasis is placed on troubleshooting problems.

"A technician in the field must be able to quickly diagnose problems in order to implement the appropriate repair or alignment procedure with minimum system down time," Gipril says.

To create the trouble conditions found on communications systems, Waukesha Tech purchased a Processing Telecom Technologies Model 5100 Telephone Network Simulator and Model 5151 Echo/Advanced Impairment Simulator. While these test sets are designed for use by modem/fax manufacturers for R&D and manufacturing/QA testing, they provided a means of generating a full complement of central office and telephone line problems.

Adding impairments in the classroom lets students see how the signal looks on the oscilloscope and how impairment affects signal quality.

Getting Their Feet Wet

Familiarizing them with a wide range of system problems greatly improves their effectiveness when they get out in the field.

With the Model 5100, a simulated central office can be configured and common local loop impairments can be selectively generated from either the front panel controls or remotely via an RS-232 or IEEE-488 interface bus. The instructor can set noise levels or signal-to-noise ratio, output attenuation and set line shaping for Bell, EIA, CCITT and Japanese line models.

The Model 5151 Echo/Advanced Impairments Simulator is used in conjunction with the Network Simulator to generate a full complement of impairments which can be added individually or in combinations to realistically simulate an active network. The instructor can add talker and listener echo, phase jitter, phase hits, amplitude jitter, nonlinear distortion gain hits/dropouts and a host of other impairments which can be viewed on the scope.

In addition, the student can see the effects of satellite delay, impulse noise and single frequency interference.

Not all the graduates of Waukesha Tech's telecommunications technicians program go to work for telephone companies. A significant percentage use their skills and training on the private networks used by banks, insurance companies and an increasing number of manufacturing operations.

Good Preparation

The experience gained in the courses allows them to effectively and efficiently install, maintain and repair a wide range of telecommunications and data communications equipment and systems.

Private networks present a number of different challenges. There is often a wide range of transmission equipment, a variety of construction standards are used, there is less redundancy, and the technician has fewer support people to assist him.

The experience gained from the simulated impairments in the classroom significantly improves his performance in the field.

Waukesha County Technical College's electronic telecommunications technician program, now in its third year, provides a real service to students, telco employees that participate, and companies that hire the graduates.
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Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1990
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