CMS team fosters achievement, creates opportunities

By Kathy Hill

New CMS tech graduate Tyler Kaiser, with his proud mom

In early 2017, National Grid Customer Meter Services and SUNY Educational Opportunity Center representatives met to explore ways to create fulfilling employment opportunities for Syracuse’s urban community residents. With that goal in mind, CMS and SUNY EOC teams worked over the next year to create the framework for an innovative academic program – designing a solid, hands-on introductory course in gas and electric customer meter services, and identifying instructors as well as qualified candidates.

The results came together at National Grid’s Liverpool Training Center on March 6, with the launch of SUNY EOC’s new Customer Meter Service Technician Certificate Program.

Eleven weeks of late nights and long commutes later, it was time to celebrate the achievement of eight graduating students: Sean Biggie, Tyler Brinkerhoff, Louis Colon, Francis Daher, Mike Hallock, Tyler Kaiser, Marcus Sales and Shouda Yan. Armed with their new CMS knowledge including safety standards and protocols, and meter reading and installation, each is now qualified to apply for employment at National Grid.

The graduates received their CMS Technician certificates at the company’s Syracuse headquarters on May 17. Celebrating along with their family members were the CMS program support team, local officials, and SUNY EOC and National Grid sponsors. All were welcomed by SUNY Syracuse EOC vice president Tim Penix, event host and National Grid New York vice president Melanie Littlejohn, and company CMS vice president Tim Graham, who originated the program.

Also celebrating were four very proud course instructors: CMS operations supervisors Dan Panebianco, Jeff Roche and Jamie Weaver, and CMS manager Paul Hart. Each had taken on the demanding training responsibilities while maintaining their regular jobs, which included several rounds of storm duty.

To get a sense of what the graduates had accomplished, Hart invited the audience to look over the course’s final examination, on display at a side table.  “These men worked hard, and they were tested all the way through,” Hart said, describing how the graduates had proved themselves. “This is dangerous work and it’s not to be taken lightly. They know the job now, they have a foot in that world. They’re ready to go.”

“The real story here is about the opportunities this creates for all our graduates, and the opportunities we’re trying to create within the community,” said Brian Sano, National Grid director of Customer Meter Service. “If the graduates don’t join us in central New York, they could choose to move to eastern or western New York, or bring that certificate to other utilities or employers to show what they’ve accomplished in partnership with National Grid. This opens a lot of doors that were not open before. It’s a true beginning.”

For information on next year’s program, contact SUNY EOC at 315-472-0130.

The first graduating class of the CMS Technician Certification program (l-r): Sean Biggie, Shouda Yan, Marcus Sales, Mike Hallock, Louis Colon, Francis Daher, Tyler Kaiser, and Tyler Brinkerhoff


CMS program instructors (l-r): Paul Hart, Jeff Roche, Jamie Weaver and Dan Panebianco


New CMS tech graduate Francis Daher, with his proud family


New CMS tech graduate Shouda Yan, with his proud sister

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