Pictured left to right: Clay Bell, Serenity Provenson, Danielle Jolly, and Neal Gilreath

On Tuesday, July 31, an event was held for guests to receive an update and overview of the Georgia Power Technical Education Center, located at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Polk County Campus.


Executives from the Southern Company and Georgia Power, as well as special guests including the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Ron Jackson, Southern Company Executive Vice President and Chief Production Officer Doug Jones, TCSG Assistant Commissioner Freida Hill, and Southern Company Senior Vice President and Senior Production Officer John Pemberton attended the event. Guests were taken on a tour of the center where they were able to see the programs and training that take place at the state of the art facility.


The Georgia Power Technical Education Center was launched in January of 2009 as a collaborative effort between GNTC, Georgia Power, the Southern Company, and more than two dozen vendors.  According to Southern Company officials, the primary purpose of the center is to provide classroom and hands-on instruction for technical and craft employees at Southern Company’s electric generating plants.


One highlight that guests at the update and overview event heard about was the success of the Instrumentation and Controls Academy located at the center.  The Instrumentation and Controls Academy is a program designed to provide high-level training for instrumentation and controls (I&C) professionals for potential employment in the I&C industry.  The academy prepares students for careers in instrumentation and controls, a field in which industry professionals are in high demand.


The academy teaches students to perform basic maintenance functions such as trouble shooting, repair, installation and maintenance of instruments, control devices, and electronic equipment through a combination of theory and hands-on training. These devices are found in any manufacturing environment – including power generation plants – and are critical to system safety, productivity, reliability, and environmental compliance.


“The Instrumentation and Controls Academy curriculum sets up the I&C technicians for modern technology,” said Rick Conti, maintenance superintendent at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle.  “The academy sets a solid foundation for I&C techs to go right into nuclear I&C training.”


After satisfying a rigid set of requirements throughout the academy, graduates of the program are eligible for potential job opportunities with Southern Company affiliates and other companies within the I&C field.  


“One of the reasons Southern Company continues to succeed is the quality of our people”, said Stephanie Swindle, maintenance manager at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen.  “It is instrumental to have a program such as the I&C Academy that supplies well-trained employees for our next round of hires.”


According to Dick Tanner, program director and instructor of the Instrumentation and Controls Academy at GNTC, the academy has worked exactly the way it was intended.  The first group of students to enter the academy in fall 2010 completed the program on July 18.   Out of the six graduates from the academy, four have accepted positions with the Southern Company.  Clay Bell, Neal Gilreath, and Serenity Provenson have been hired as Instrumentation and Controls Technicians at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen in Bartow County.  Danielle Jolly has been hired with the Southern Company to work at Plant Vogtle, in Burke County. 


Swindle added, “I was personally impressed with the quality and knowledge of the candidates that I interviewed from the I&C Academy.  It was obvious that they had appropriate training to step into a position with Georgia Power and quickly add value.”


“In today’s industrial environment, any and all exposure to the instruments, devices, and processes makes that graduate a more valuable asset to any industry,” stated Tanner. “Georgia Power has seen the benefit of their vision through this first group of graduates from the Academy.”


For more information about the Instrumentation and Controls Academy at GNTC, please visit GNTC.edu or call 770-684-5696.