By Ashley Barham, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic conducted a graduation ceremony Feb. 12, onboard Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, for 10 students who successfully completed four years of training in the command’s apprenticeship program.
The command currently has 60 apprentices in the program and has graduated more than 150 since 2006. The U.S. Department of Labor registered program combines on-the-job training (OJT) with apprentice mentoring, and related instruction.
“Congratulations to our new graduates,” said NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Executive Officer Capt. William Siemer. “This is a huge, huge accomplishment and a significant milestone in your career. For every one of you, I know this is just the beginning. I encourage you to keep plugging away, keep pressing, keep charging, and you’ll get to wherever it is that you want to get to.”
During the four-year program, apprentices work full-time to achieve a total of 8,000 hours of OJT, while going to school to achieve an associate degree or certificate in their assigned trade.
“Our graduates are now contributing to the workforce repairing and conducting maintenance for our customers across the mid-Atlantic area of responsibility,” said Thomas Harrington, apprenticeship program administrator.
Apprentices are trained in one of nine of the following trades: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanic; electrician; high voltage electrician; plumber; pipefitter; boiler plant mechanic; industrial equipment control mechanic; heavy mobile equipment mechanic; and auto mechanic.
One of this year’s students is Public Works Business Line (PWBL) Core, Heavy Mobile Equipment Mechanic Desiyea Gorham, who graduated the program summa cum laude.
“I think it's a great program that puts you on the fast track from entry level to journeyman in four years, with increasing pay and good benefits,” said Gorham, a Portsmouth, Virginia native. “I am now licensed and certified to repair and operate equipment and vehicles that were once foreign to me.”
Along with Gorham, nine other apprentices graduated the program and successfully moved on to become journeyman tradesmen and women. They are Gregory Garrison, an electrician at JEB Little Creek/Fort Story, summa cum laude; Paul Kercheval, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic at PWBL Core Crane Shop, summa cum laude; Benjamen Owen, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic at PWBL Core Crane Shop, magna cum laude; Alexander Hutton, a heavy mobile equipment mechanic at Public Works Department (PWD) Yorktown, cum laude; George Rasberry, a plumber at PWD Yorktown, cum laude; Derrick Jones, a HVAC mechanic at PWD Yorktown; Kayla Barnes, a high voltage electrician at PWD Norfolk; Norman Love, an electrician at PWD Philadelphia; and Timothy Fantini, a plumber at PWD Philadelphia.
Harrington said that the apprenticeship program is important to the command because it helps to reduce the impact of attrition in the workforce and helps improve the talent and skills of the tradesmen and women.
When asked if she had any advice for current and future apprentices, Gorham said they should work smart, study hard, and use all of the resources offered to them.
“Listen and be teachable, both in class and on the job. Ask questions until you understand and practice safety at all times,” she added.
NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic provides facilities engineering, public works and environmental products and services across an area of responsibility that spans from Georgia to Maine and as far west as Indiana. As an integral member of the Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic team, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic provides leadership through the Regional Engineer organization to ensure the region's facilities and infrastructure are managed efficiently and effectively.