At least for now, the new Maverick Technical Institute (MTI) likely won’t be confused with the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that is just down the highway. But among young Millennials searching for a solid career opportunity, the affordable MTI in Nashua, N.H., just might prove to be a much more valuable experience and investment than an uber-expensive elite university like Cambridge, Mass.-based MIT.
MTI is the brainchild of Dennis Jaques and Daryl Dembiec, principals at Maverick Integration, a CE Pro 100 custom installation company in Nashua. The company was simply frustrated with the lack of quality existing educational opportunities available to train new technicians. So, Maverick formed its own school, which held its grand opening this week with local dignitaries and industry elite there to help with the kick off the celebration.
The school, which officially opens with students in September, is unlike any other training entity in the custom electronics industry: It offers an accredited 1,100-hour, 35-week curriculum focused solely on commercial and residential low-voltage electronics installation. Graduates will be able to walk into any custom installation company in the U.S. and be valuable contributors immediately, according to Joe Boston, executive director of the school. Boston has been in education for 27 years, most recently running a mobile electronics school in Watertown, Mass.
The hybrid curriculum is based partly on a syllabus drawn from the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA), the training alliance formed by CEDIA, CTA and NSCA, and partly on training of Maverick’s own design. In all, there are 21 modules, covering every subsystem and more. Assessments will be conducted at the end of each module.
Graduates will be able to:
- Demonstrate audio visual installation designs, knowledge of layout principles and aesthetic design concepts.
- Identify techniques for mounting video systems, installing equipment racks and enclosures.
- Create technical documents to support client proposals.
- Demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts in audio and video delivery.
- Apply concise verbal and written communication as it pertains to clients and collaborators.
“We took the ESPA training a step further to add ‘real world flair’ to it,” says Boston. Just as an example, the training delves into details such as how to greet the customer when you arrive on the jobsite, to when to use sheet metal screws vs. drywall screws for various mounting situations, to how to clean up the jobsite when you leave. That level of detail is not found in ESPA.
“The difference between MTI and other trade schools is that we don’t make students take classes they don’t need. They don’t need to know about the history of cable or audio theory. The idea is to put out independent technicians, not gophers or wirepullers still in need of immediate training before they can contribute,” says Boston.
Also, MTI courses will not be conducted online at all … it is all in-class training. There is a heavy hands-on component to the curriculum … about 40 percent of the training will be in a hands-on lab. Graduates will earn an ESPA Electronic Systems Technician (EST) certification.
The 6,700-square-foot facility has a welcome lobby, locker room, kitchen and offices, but behind that is where the real magic will take place. There are two large classrooms that will be equipped with smart projectors/whiteboards for teachers. Across the hall is a large hands-on training lab with large racks from Middle Atlantic ready for students. Tables have flat panels, speakers, wire spools, extenders, and more. There is also donated equipment from Sonance, Liberty, SnapAV and Crestron.
Cost of the tuition is $18,490. Scholarships and financial aid are available just like for any public or private university, college or vocational school.
“Graduates will be able to get a job for $40,000 out of this,” declares Boston with confidence. “Students won’t come out of MTI with insurmountable debt with monthly payments equivalent to a mortgage.”
Kate Baker, an advisory board member to the school and an educational expert, notes, “We have to get the word out now that there are seats and scholarship funds available.”
MTI’s capacity is 40 students per year. There are already several students enrolled. It is a completely separate entity from Maverick Integration. Graduates will be groomed to take job opportunities with any company they want, not just Maverick Integration.
Brown noted, “Our industry needs talent at the entry level, and every integrator I know says this is his/her No. 1 challenge. You drag some guy off the street, tell him to pull wire for six months, and pray he doesn’t crash your van, or rob your warehouse. In the meantime, you pay to shuffle him off to courses and seminars on key, narrow disciplines. Your investment keeps adding up, all the while hoping you can pay the guy enough to keep him, even though YOU gave him his start!”
At the grand opening, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess cut the ribbon along with Boston, who quipped, “I hope to have five Maverick Technical Institutes across the country before I retire.”
Let’s hope that is true, the industry’s labor shortage is dire.