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Electrical systems specialist course; it's 'watt' matters


Senior Airman Chris Baptista and Airman 1st Class Karel Zelaya Alvarez, electrical systems specialists from Moody Air Force Base, GA, and McChord AFB, work with lighting equipment at Sheppard AFB, Texas, June 26, 2018. Both Airmen went through the electrical systems specialist course at Sheppard about two years ago and returned to attend the advanced airfield lighting course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Madeleine E. Remillard)


Airman 1st Class Jacob Palmer, 366th Training Squadron electrical systems specialist course student, receives guidance from his instructor Staff Sgt. Philip Gautiere as he works with a power source at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 21, 2018. Students in the course are taught by at least 15 different instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Madeleine E. Remillard)

It is undoubtedly true that every Air Force base and installation requires electricity to operate efficiently. Responsible for installing, repairing and maintaining electrical networks, electrical systems specialists play a key role in ensuring mission accomplishment Air Force wide.

The training all starts here with the 366th Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base. The electrical systems specialist course is a grueling 91 training days jam-packed with information.

Some of the course content includes changing basic lights and electrical outlets, fire alarm maintenance, and airfield lighting installation and maintenance.

Having just graduated the course July 22, 2018, two of the Air Force’s newest electrical systems specialists, Airmen 1st Class Alec Adair and Jacob Palmer, were able to speak about their training experience.

Adair, a Minnesota native, said he was quite intimidated before beginning the course since he had no experience with electrical systems and the course was very fast-paced. However, it didn’t take him long to embrace the information overload, as he realized he is doing an important job.

Staff Sgt. Philip Gautiere, a New York native and instructor for the electrical systems specialist course, was able to spark Adair’s belief in the importance of his job. With almost eight years of service and two deployments under his belt, he has seen the impact of his job first-hand time and time again.

“The mission will fail if planes can’t fly and maintainers can’t maintain,” Gautiere said. “Everybody needs electricity. It is our job to make that happen,”

Palmer, an Arkansas native, agreed with his fellow Airman and instructor about the challenges and importance of the course. But he said he could also see value in the job in the civilian world.

“It’s comforting knowing that I have job security both in and out of the military since this job translates into civilian world,” Palmer said.

However, like any job, it comes with risk. Safety is always a factor when working with an electrical power source.

Adair said he will maintain safety in his career by the proper use of personal protective equipment, using the wingman concept and trusting his training.

Electrical systems specialists are key personnel. After all, if you’re reading this from a computer in a well-lit room, you can thank an electrical systems specialist.