Learning by Doing: NEIEP and the Apprentice-Mechanic Partnership

Several times a year, engineers, writers, and other Development staff along with Area Coordinators from the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) travel from the NEIEP Instructor Training Center in Warwick, Rhode Island to locations throughout the country to showcase the elevator industry’s most comprehensive education and training program.

This year, the state of Texas featured prominently on the list of places where NEIEP fairs were held. International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 133 members Pat Coker, Jarred Baker, and Bobby Harper stopped by a NEIEP fair in Austin. Pat, Jarred, and Bobby all work as elevator constructors in the field for TK Elevator. While they were checking out demonstrations of the hands-on lab materials at the NEIEP fair, they also had the chance to spend time talking with Development Department head Lester White and some of the other experienced staff and subject matter experts who write the textbooks and lab manuals and design the hands-on labs NEIEP uses in its IUEC elevator constructor apprentice and mechanic training in classrooms across the United States.

Pat told us that years ago when he became an elevator constructor, he didn’t have access to the type of intensive, hands-on training that IUEC apprentices participate in through NEIEP today. “It’s a lot different,” he said. “They are required to be there four hours a night – it’s more hands-on with the labs.” He continued, “all the lab work that you see in here today – we didn’t have that when I went through (the education program), so seeing the technology and the growth – it helps them out in the field so they can apply what they do in the field in the classroom, and vice-versa.”

Through on-site classes held weekly at IUEC Locals across the US, as well as online classrooms that the students can access using their home computers, NEIEP courses teach IUEC elevator constructors the foundational and specialized skills they’ll need to build, modernize, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair complex pieces of conveyance machinery including elevators, escalators, moving walks, Automated People Movers, wind turbine conveyance systems, and more – all safely and efficiently. A USDOL-registered apprenticeship program held to the highest standards, NEIEP’s is the most respected education program in the trade. In fact, a number of colleges and universities recognize NEIEP courses as equivalent to college-level learning.

The NEIEP apprenticeship program for elevator constructors doesn’t stop at classroom learning; incoming apprentices also log 8,000 hours of field work under the supervision of an experienced mechanic. After that, they must pass a capstone Mechanic Exam to advance to mechanic status. This combination of classroom courses and field work is why incoming IUEC elevator constructors quickly become the best-trained, most well-rounded workers in the conveyance industry.

Bobby, an IUEC elevator constructor apprentice who works under Pat’s direction, spoke about how important the apprentice – mechanic partnership is, and how being able to apply the skills he learns in the classroom to his work in the field has enhanced his learning all around. “Whenever you mention following in his lead, that’s step-by-step,” he said. “When it comes to safety or troubleshooting, we’re starting our process off in the truck in the morning – what are we doing today? What are we getting into? From the start – even before work starts – we’re brainstorming how we’re going to tackle this task efficiently, and most importantly, safely.”

“He and I have a routine,” Pat continued. “It’s always, ‘let’s go look at it’ first. ‘Let’s go get a visual game plan of what we want to do, how we’re going to accomplish it’ – then we’ll tool-up and we’ll discuss it all the way back and forth to the jobsite. So the stuff that they’re learning in class, that goes along with it. I think it’s a great benefit to have.”

“Coming up as an Apprentice, your Mechanic is a person to lean on every single day,” said Bobby. “Pat has been around the nation working on elevators from two-stops all the way up… I’ve devoted the past five years of my life to an education program to get to where I am now – to hopefully fill (his) shoes.”


For more information about the most comprehensive education program in the elevator industry, check out https://www.neiep.org/.