Pitt Community College student prepares for national electrical competition

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A Pitt Community College student is heading to Nashville, TN for a national competition for electrical professionals.

Alex Harrell, 20, will compete in the 2021 IDEAL National Championship Finals for a chance to win $40,000.

Pitt Community College says Harrell works at Pitt Electric to get hours needed to become an electrician, in addition to taking night courses in electrical systems technology.

“I am very excited to go to Nashville, because I have always loved country music,” Harrell says. “I am a little nervous, because I know it’s going to be great competition.”

The championship will take place from Dec. 15-17 at Music City Center in Nashville.

In addition to the top prize, the roughly 60 contestants could win $20,000 for coming in second place or $10,000 for coming in third.

Harell will be accompanied by his instructor Joe Strickland, a PCC Electrical Systems Technology faculty member.

“The competition is really challenging,” Strickland said. “Some competitors have been working in the [electrical] field for a while but decided to enroll in an apprenticeship program, so now they get to qualify as students.”

Harrell is a Greenville resident and graduate of D.H. Conley High School and he has been taking electrical systems courses at PCC since he was a high school junior.

Harrell says his goal is to earn an associate degree in electrical systems technology from PCC and become a foreman at an electrical company or maybe “branch off someday and do my own thing.”

Regardless, Harrell says he is excited for the competition in Nashville, by which qualifying for he has already won a $1,650-prize package that includes the round-trip to and around Nashville, a three-night stay in a Music City hotel, and meals while he’s there.

How did Harrell receive the honor of getting to go to the competition? PCC says he posted the top score in the state in a qualifying event held at the school. He had to wire a three-way switch circuit using a combination of tools and scoring was based on the time it took, quality and safety applied.

2021 is the fifth year the IDEAL championships have been held.

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