In July, 2015, Lynchburg was the first community in Virginia to be designated a TechHire community. Fifteen local employers in advanced manufacturing, health care and IT joined with the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority (LEDA) to develop plans for workforce development programs that would provide high quality and accessible technical training locally. In March, LEDA officially submitted to the TechHire grant program.
TRAX Energy Solutions was one of the TechHire partners participating to offer a unique engineering technology training program. Founded in 1987 in Lynchburg, TRAX Energy Solutions currently employs 50-55 people locally and another 10 employees in Beijing, China. It is a division of TRAX International, which employs 2,200 employees across the world. In Lynchburg, the company specializes in modeling and simulation for engineering and simulators supporting energy projects around the world.
“We saw value in the TechHire opportunity – not only for us, but also for the community,” said John Kenney, President of TRAX Energy Solutions. “People who complete the training program will gain skills that are sought-after by power plants, because they will have experience in control logic systems and plant operations, but the training also applies to some manufacturing operations.”
TRAX Energy Solutions Technician Training Program Overview
The anticipated engineering technology program would be split into two segments: both with the goal of developing qualified technical workers focused on work in power plant systems and control rooms or with TRAX. Phase one will take candidates six months to complete. The candidate will learn how to use ProTRAX software, which is used in power plants around the world. Phase two of the training covers core control logic skills, which are used in every TRAX simulator program. This phase will take an additional two to three months, which will mean a total of six to eight months of full-time, hands-on training. The training may include a small amount of travel, which will allow the candidate to visit power plants and apply their skills in person as opportunities arise.
“Our training program is very technical and intensive,” said Kenney. “It requires months to learn these skills and to complete the full training for qualified candidates.”
TRAX envisions bringing on three to five candidates per year, and the anticipated program will be paid via TechHire. Typical power plant operators make between $55,000 and $75,000 per year. Each candidate would be supervised by a mid-level engineer, a senior technician, and a senior engineer.
If the TechHire program is approved, TRAX is prepared to invest donated training time valued at $125,000 to $150,000 per candidate. Each candidate would also be provided with the software keys and computer access needed to complete the training. These tools tally up to around $10,000 per technician trainee.
Who should apply?
The ideal candidate would have experience as an engineering technician, and possess a good understanding of mathematics and software. A two-year engineering degree is helpful, and preferred, but not mandatory. TechHire grants support candidates who are ages 17-29 experiencing a barrier to employement.
Several other local technical businesses have submitted TechHire applications for unique technical training and workforce development programs.