Co-Lin graduates first fiber splicers
Back in 2021, Co-Lin’s Workforce Education Division discovered and responded to a major regional industry gap that had emerged with growing emphasis on broadband internet technology and the sudden demand for it in the COVID-19 pandemic: the need for trained fiber splicers critical to building a fiber optic broadband infrastructure.
Access to broadband enables people more affordable and efficient access to basic services such as health care, education, and government services, and the sudden onset of COVID-19 made it an important need when work-from-home, and school-from-home sharply increased and broadband technology became not just an added benefit to the home, but a requirement for residential internet and wi-fi. While many have returned to the workplace and classroom, the demand for high-speed broadband connectivity continues to increase. In the Magnolia State, the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) was created to expand broadband infrastructure and make increasing accessibility of high a top priority.
Co-Lin applied for funds and launched a first-of-its-kind training program to meet the demand for fiber splicing techs. This year, the college graduated six students from the program, will start a new session September 11 on the Wesson campus with a September 1 registration deadline.
Workforce Center Director and Fiber Splicing Instructor Luke Laird assumed responsibility for the implementation of the program midway through the process as he took leadership within the workforce department. The process involved overcoming several challenges such as supply chain shortages, curriculum selection, and curriculum training for certified instructor status.
After researching industry recognized programs, Co-Lin selected CORNING Fiber Broadband Technician (CFBT) See the Light® curriculum, which is recognized by industry training certification organizations such as BICSI, Electronics Technicians Association (ETA International), Fiber Optic Association (FOA), and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers/ international Society of Broadband Experts.
The Co-Lin fiber splicing technician program consists of 144 hours of training, in which students first receive comprehensive fiber optic theory and hands-on training designed for those with no industry experience. This program expands the CORNING Fiber Broadband Technician Course. First, a foundation of fiber optic basics is established consisting of but not limited to infrastructure, cable types, hardware and closures, placement, fiber optic fusion splicing, testing, and troubleshooting. Then the Co-Lin program incorporates course work for the CFBT certification, OSHA-10 safety, forklift operator’s card, and CPR/First Aid certification.
“The students from our program are uniquely positioned to lead the way for trained and certified fiber splicing employees,” says Laird. “The state is waiting for a funding rollout that would allow for contractors to begin the broadband network buildout. At that time, employers will be looking for certified techs, and these students are ready to lead the charge.”
Information is available on the website www.colin.edu/fibersplicing or by calling 601.643.8707. Enrollment requirements include scoring a 16 or higher on the ACT or a silver level or greater on the National Career Readiness Certificate.