More than 300 vocational high schools, training centers, and technical colleges across the country have recently begun using a training program that teaches about the increasing application of armored (AC) and metal-clad (MC) cable in commercial wiring. The AC & MC training program resource kit is offered free from AFC Cable Systems, New Bedford, Mass.

The training kit includes 20 copies of the MC & AC Cable Guide, written by industry expert James Stallcup; samples of armored and metal-clad cable, labeled for easy identification; and a 20-minute video that details different installation situations and techniques.

The 117-page MC & AC Cable Guide provides an overview of the most important aspects of selecting and installing armored and metal-clad electrical cable. The guide is illustrated with detailed drawings to help students identify different types of armored and metal-clad cable and how the cable should be installed in a variety of situations.

Ross Collins Vocational Center

"If I can show my students how to use metal-clad and armored cable the right way, then they are ready to go when they get to their jobs," says instructor Milton Pettengill, an electrician who received a mailing from AFC Cable Systems offering him the free MC & AC training program. "Everything is new to them anyway, so this program fits in and goes with the flow. We're seeing an increase in the use of MC and AC cable, especially down along the coast, where they are building condos and using metal studs.

"The price of lumber is forcing many contractors to use metal studs. Contractors are saving time and money by using armored cable, which they can simply run through the walls without damaging the wire," he explains.

Pettengill says most of his students go right to work for a contractor when they graduate. "One contractor came in here last year and wanted 40 electricians. Because they've gone to vocational school, our kids skip the helper stage and start as apprentices."

Like many vocational instructors, Pettengill teaches high school students by day and adult students at night. His adult students are a mix of construction and industrial electricians.

"Even in my night classes, where I teach electricians in many cases, I find students aren't really aware of the many different types of armored and metal-clad cable available," he said. "I was surprised to learn there were so many different types of cable-and I've been an electrician for 22 years! This material has been an eye opener."

Coastal Carolina Community College

At Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville, N.C., school educator-of-the-year, James Cole, is also using the AC & MC training program. Cole's students range in age from 18 to 55. Most are retraining to become electricians, including retired Marines from nearby Camp Legune.

"We see an increase in the use of MC and AC cable because of the labor savings versus rigid conduit methods," notes Cole, who spent 28 years as an electrician and the last eight as a teacher. "I especially like the references to the National Electrical Code that are used throughout the handbooks that come with the AFC program. The questions at the end of each chapter really help reinforce the information."

Mon Valley Center

Instructor Thomas Litavec teaches electrical construction courses to grades 10 to 12 at Mon Valley Career & Technology Center in Charleroi, Pa. An estimated 75% of Litavec's students go to work as apprentice electricians upon graduation from the Center.

"I use the AC & MC instructional materials as an introduction to cabling methods," Litavec explains. "It works great. The curriculum is already set up for you. I show a portion of the video, then we go to the text and talk about what it says. I use the cable samples to illustrate various points and to help students identify the various types. They can touch it and see what it looks like."

"I think the knowledge our kids get from this program will definitely help them on the job," Litavec said. "More and more contractors are using MC cable. With MC, you run the wire and protection in one pass."

Along with his use of the AC & MC program at Mon Valley, Litavec also uses the material in a class he teaches at night for the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Pittsburgh, an open-shop organization. Litavec teaches the third year in a four-year journeyman electrician program.

How to order

The AC & MC instructional program is available free to qualified vocational schools, training centers, and union or nonunion training programs. To order the AC & MC Cable Education Program, send your request on school or trade group stationery to Andy Rose, AFC Cable Systems Inc., 55 Darnel Baronet Blvd., New Bedford, MA 02745-1214; or by fax at (508) 998-8533.