Brannon second woman to graduate from Caperton electrical program

Photo by Michael Erb Caperton Center Electrical Technologies instructor Chris Furr, left, stands with Parkersburg South High School senior Molly Brannon, right, next to the bases for an array of solar panels being installed by students behind the center. Brannon is the first woman in recent years to graduate from the Electrical Technologies and only the second woman to graduate since the program was created in 1975.

PARKERSBURG — A Parkersburg South High School senior has completed the Caperton Center’s Electrical Technologies program, the first female to do so in recent years and only the second in the history of the program.

Molly Brannon, 18, will graduate this week with her certification in the two-year program. She is one of 16 students to complete the program this year.

Instructor Chris Furr, who has headed the electrical program the past three years, said the program opened in 1975, and while he doesn’t have records of the classes from the early days, he was told only one woman had completed the program.

Brannon said she toured the Caperton Center in her sophomore year and became interested in the electrical program.

“I really liked the outlook of everything. I thought it would be a fun thing to get into and learn about,” she said.

Furr said few if any women apply to be in the program, often based on the perception it is a job primarily for men.

“Traditionally that’s the case, unfortunately,” he said. “It’s actually very lucrative for women in this field. Their attention to detail, fine motor control, it’s what we need for electricians.”

“I feel like they’re nervous about it,” Brannon said. “You walk in and you see all these guys wanting to get in. But they’re not understanding you can do all the things a guy can do.”

Brannon said at times the program required heavy lifting and other physical tasks more commonly associated with men, but she was intent on doing the work herself.

“I’m smaller than most of the guys, so I just work a little bit harder,” she said. “Certain things, they think I can’t do it, and then I do it.”

The Electrical Technologies program uses a Simulated Workplace approach where students create and run their own business as part of the course. This year’s business was named Mountain Man Power.

“That’s the name they chose. They voted on it,” Furr said, but added Brannon was one of his top students and excelled at the program.

Brannon will graduate with her electrical certification and apprenticeship licence from the state, and will take the journeyman’s exam and aptitude test for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers next month.

Brannon also is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship which provides tuition for four years, and will attend West Virginia University at Parkersburg in the fall. Though she has not yet settled on a major, Brannon said she would like to continue with something in the electrical field.

Furr said he hopes to see Brannon take on a leadership role.

“She’s the only one in my program to ever receive that scholarship,” he said. “I personally would like her to go into the supervisor/management program. It’s a good four-year construction management program and she would still be able to supervise electrical work.”

Brannon said she would recommend more women look at the electrician field.

“They should try this program. It’s just something good to learn, and it would be a really good job and skill to have,” she said. “I just feel like you should get out of your box a little bit and try new things, because that is what I did, and I love it.”