The history of Northwest Lineman College (NLC) begins in 1991, when two of its three founders—Gerald McKie and Aaron Howell (both Boise State University linework trainers at the time)—realized that a more modern program needed to be developed. They decided the best course of action would be to establish a private linework college dedicated to providing the finest educational offerings ever known in the industry. To help realize this endeavor, Howell approached fellow lineman Shane Porter, NLC’s third founder.
McKie brought extensive trade and training experience to the table; Howell and Porter also had considerable experience, in addition to degrees in business and engineering, respectively. The three began designing NLC’s Electrical Lineworker Program (ELP)—a modernized, student-focused approach to linework training. Studying the needs of power companies across the United States, they developed an innovative curriculum designed to graduate the most competitive candidates in the country. After two years of research and development, Northwest Lineman College was founded in April 1993, opening its doors to the first ELP class in August that same year.
The new approach was well received, drawing considerable attention from the industry’s brightest. In 1997, Alan Drew—a lineman, engineer, and one of the industry’s foremost experts on linework operations and history—joined ranks. Drew contributed immediately, formalizing overall operations of the college, which led to national accreditation in 2000. Drew also captured the true spirit of NLC in establishing its mission: to provide The Benchmark Standard of Training®.
NLC’s pioneering foundation proved to be a hotbed for growth in other areas. In 1998, more groundbreaking curriculum was produced by NLC trade professionals; complex topics were explained using simple-to-understand terms and well-illustrated imagery—a luxury the industry was starved for. That curriculum would become the basis for NLC’s Power Delivery Programs. Hundreds of power companies enrolled thousands of employees in the programs, only to request even more training. Before long, NLC was delivering on-site training to thousands of more lineworkers (and other professionals) across the country—even around the world.¹ These efforts were led by alumni Michael Hennesey, who is now Chief Growth Officer of NLC.
Commitment to continually improving the industry was punctuated in the establishment of Grid Manufacturing (now NLC Manufacturing) and hiring of alumni Mark Groves. Groves took an idea from Howell (now president of NLC) to develop a snatch block with friction capabilities and invented the OX Block, revolutionizing rigging safety. NLC Manufacturing continues its innovation with a wide range of safety and training products that will improve the industry well into the future.
Dedication to providing top-notch educational offerings has never waned, as NLC now produces modern training videos, continually explores and implements prevailing technologies in its program offerings, and applies sound pedagogical and andragogical methodologies in its educational design. A vast network of alumni, power companies, construction companies, and manufacturers recognize NLC graduates as highly competitive candidates for long, rewarding careers in the power delivery industry. The foundation established so many years ago is stronger now than ever before, and Northwest Lineman College’s commitment to its students and the industry remains unwavering.
¹In 2008, NLC delivered training initiatives in Kabul, Afghanistan (during that country’s rebuilding) and later in Tanzania, Africa.