Fully Wired

How CNM’s Electrical Trades Students Are Gaining Real-World Experience on a New Habitat for Humanity House

Mar 15, 2018

Fully Wired
Students Elias Martinez, left, and Randall Yazzi tie in the ground wire at the service box.

Chris Grant has been an accountant for 30 years (including part-time work here at CNM), but decided recently she wanted a new challenge. She found exactly that in the Electrical Trades program where she’s studying to get her associate degree.

“I really wanted to be in the trades as a kid, but my parents discouraged that,” said Grant, who’s 53. “But look, here I am.”

In addition to taking classes, Grant and her cohort are currently putting their skills to use at a Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity house out near West Mesa High School. That’s where she was Thursday morning when she was tasked with running lines from the service box into the house.

“Coming out here and actually working on a house has been incredible,” she said.

Other CNM students agreed.

“They threw us in and we started getting experience on day one of our classes,” said Elias Martinez, 19, who was outside tying in the ground wire at the service box. Martinez, who learned about CNM’s Electrical Trades program during a college fair at his high school in Pojoaque, plans to eventually take over his uncle’s electrical business.

Chris Grant runs wires through the garage of a Habitat for Humanity house out near West Mesa High School.

Supervising all the work was Phelan Gavaldon, the Electrical Trades department chair and instructor who’s also a licensed electrician and business owner. It’s the 29th Habitat for Humanity project his students have worked on along with Bill Reilly, Habitat’s construction manager.

The house should be ready for a single mom and her kids in late May. When it’s done, Grant, Martinez, and the rest of the crew will move onto the next, and then the next.

"Working with CNM has been a great partnership,” Reilly said. “The students get tons of hands-on experience, and we save lots of money to keep everything affordable for families who really need these houses.”

Making progress.