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What it takes to become part of AEP Ohio’s elite team of line mechanics

by on July 14, 2014

brandiMeet one of AEP Ohio’s newer line mechanics: Brandi Persch.

Persch, who is currently enrolled in the company’s line school as an apprentice, is assigned to a Columbus service center that serves the city’s southwest quadrant.
Brandi’s journey to becoming a line mechanic began back in 1998 when she joined the company as a meter reader.

Any time additional training was offered, Persch saw it as an opportunity to expand her technical capabilities.

It wasn’t until the 2012 Derecho, however, when Persch got a chance to help with the company’s massive restoration efforts that the idea of becoming a line mechanic began to take root.

“It was the first time I got to see line work in progress,” Persch said. “I was fascinated by what I saw.”

“It may seem a bit different for a woman to want to be a line mechanic, but I love it!” Persch explained. “I set my goal to train hard and work every day toward the goal of becoming a candidate for line school.”

Steps to becoming a line mechanic
When an employee applies for a line mechanic position, they have to successfully pass the following assessments. The first step in getting qualified is to take the CAST and Strength tests.

The CAST test helps determine whether the candidate has the aptitude for the duties required in the line mechanic position. The Strength test determines whether the candidate can handle the physical aspects – which can be very demanding — of the job.

Following successful passing of the CAST and Strength tests, the candidate can advance to take the Pre-Assessment.

The Pre-Assessment involves a number of challenging tasks including the following:
•Climbing poles at various heights from 4 to 20 feet, with and without fall restraints
•Conducting several tasks such as installing crossarms while on the pole at 4 feet
•Carrying a 25-foot ladder weighing 60 lbs. and materials weighing 20 lbs.
•Ladder climbing and performing a job task safely while on a ladder
•Climbing inside a bucket truck and elevation to a height of 46 – 50 feet

A day in the life
From conversations with her peers, Persch learned the job of a line mechanic is demanding and often times hazardous. Line mechanics can work long hours in extreme conditions and are on call 24 hours a day. They can also be away from home for long periods of time while doing storm restoration work in other states.

Knowing she would need the support of her family if she were to pursue this career, Persch talked to her husband, his parents and her parents, and everyone gave their blessings and support.

Having her family’s encouragement inspired her to continue working toward her goal. Last August, her hard work paid off. Persch passed the Pre-Assessment and accepted her current position. Persch still has a long road ahead of her, but says it’s the journey not the destination.

Apprentices go through 9,000 hours of on-the-job training and classroom instruction over a four-year period. To graduate, students must pass a written exam at 80 percent and demonstrate mastery of the competencies learned by passing seven field events at 100 percent.

When asked what advice she would give to other women and men who might be interested in the line mechanic profession, Persch says, “If you want to be a part of this elite group, you need to make sure it is truly what you want and know why you want it. Then you must work hard, set your goals and go for it.”

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