With a new apprenticeship program in Intelligent Transportation Systems, Palomar is training a new class of electricians to connect the roadways of tomorrow.

SAN MARCOS — With the rise of “smart cars” and a proliferation of roadway technology enabling safer, smoother commutes, Palomar College is launching a new apprenticeship program this fall to train students in how to install and maintain electronic transportation infrastructure.

“It’s all of that technology built into our roads and transportation systems that you don’t really think about,” said Nichol Roe, Associate Dean, Workforce Development & Extended Studies. “All of those things that make our intersections more intelligent.”

As an apprenticeship program, students will enroll in a four- or five-year program that has them working full-time while they take classes, Roe explained. The program is free, with no tuition or fees, but students must pass an entrance exam and screening interview to be admitted.

“As soon as they enter the program, they start earning a livable wage, as well as medical benefits and a retirement,” she said. “It’s all about earning while you learn.”

Kevin Johnson, the center’s Training Director, said student apprentices must complete 916 classroom hours and 6,400 on-the-job training hours to graduate. They will learn how to work on traffic signals, speed cameras, walk signs, signal controllers, fiber infrastructure, and various electrical applications, including roadside lighting.

In most cases, graduates would go to work for contractors that are hired by Caltrans to upgrade city infrastructure: “They want someone to develop this skilled workforce for the future,” said Johnson.

All training and classes take place at the San Diego Electrician Training Center, with curriculum developed by Palomar College and approved by the Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento.

“While the students aren’t necessarily coming to the campus, they’re still held to the same standards,” Roe said. “And they also have access to all of Palomar College’s services.”

Upon completion, students will receive a Certificate of Achievement from Palomar College and a journeyman’s certificate from the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, which is the credential necessary to begin working as a journeyman.

The program is the college’s eighth apprenticeship program, and the third in partnership with the San Diego Electrician Training Center. Together, Palomar’s apprenticeship programs are projected to serve approximately 1,700 students enrolled in the 2018-19 school year.

Space in the inaugural Intelligent Transportation Systems class is limited. Click here for more information.