Professional Capacity Building (PCB) for Communications Update - November 7th, 2012


UPDATE: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The second training course for the Professional Capacity Building for Communications project was held September 24th-28th, 2012, at the Sacramento Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC) in Rancho Cordova, California. Mastering Fiber Optic Network Design and Installation was taught by Eric Pearson of Pearson Technologies and was filled to capacity with 12 ITS engineers from six different Caltrans districts.

The training course was geared towards rural ITS engineers – students came from Caltrans Districts that work to address rural transportation challenges on a regular basis. Districts 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10 were represented.

The course was an intense, 5 full days of training covering design of fiber optic networks, and installation, maintenance, and testing of installed networks. Students learned a 14-step design process with product options available to the designer, typical specifications for such products, as well as advantages and disadvantages. The installation portion of the training covered basic steps of installation, maintenance, inspection, testing, and certification of the installed network. Students prepared cable ends, completed fusion and mechanical splices, conducted insertion loss and OTDR testing, learned principles for enclosure preparation, and worked on troubleshooting and certification of networks.

By design, the course included lectures as well as a significant amount of time spent working on laboratory exercises and hands-on problems.

Course instructor Eric Pearson gives an example to explain a concept during a course lecture.

Photo by Doug Galarus

Here, Mr. Pearson explains how to complete a fusion splice and then demonstrates the procedure.

The class gathers around the instructor to watch the fusion splice demonstration.

Photo by Leann Koon

Here, he goes through the steps of a mechanical splice:

Mechanical splice demonstration with instructor Eric Pearson in the center.  Left to right:  Steven Gee (District 5), Dave Le (District 6), Will Lyons (District 9).

Photo by Leann Koon

After watching the splicing demonstrations, each student completed an approved fusion splice and mechanical splice. With everyone watching, Berhanu Zergaw from District 3 volunteered to complete the first fusion splice.

Berhanu Zergaw works carefully on a fusion splice while the instructor observes his work.  Other students gathered around to watch.  Clockwise from left:  Steven Gee, Michael Mullen, Dave Le, Eric Pearson

Photo by Leann Koon

Phil Graham from Caltrans District 9 works to align the fibers in the splicer as he completes a fusion splice.

Phil Graham works on a fusion splice while Luis Torres (left) from District 10 and Michael Mullen (holding a light) from District 3 watch and talk through the exercise with Phil.

Photo by Leann Koon

Here, Samuel Campos, Caltrans District 6, performs a mechanical splice:

Samuel Campos (District 6) gets the fibers placed correctly to perform a successful mechanical splice.  Berhanu Zergaw observes.

Photo by Leann Koon

In order to make the course as realistic and practical as possible, students were encouraged to bring their own equipment to use during the class. Caltrans District 2 has an active large scale fiber project underway in Redding and the students from District 2 brought their equipment to class. They were able to complete the laboratory exercises using their own gear which helped them develop immediately applicable skills. It also allowed the other students to expand their knowledge base and awareness of different products that could be used in their respective districts.

Here’s Jeremiah Pearce from District 2 performing a successful fusion splice with D2’s equipment:

Jeremiah Pearce is in the center working on the equipment.  Watching, left to right:  Jeff Worthington, Keith Koeppen, both from District 2, and Will Lyons from District 9.

Photo by Leann Koon

The small group size allowed students to interact with each other and work through problems together which not only helped increase student learning, but also built relationships and resources for when students are back working in their own Districts. Below, Richard Montoya from District 10 and Dave Le from District 6 conduct an insertion loss test during one of the lab exercises.

Loss testing during hands-on lab exercises.  Richard Montoya (left), Dave Le (right).

Photo by Leann Koon

After covering the 14 step design process in detail, students were assigned a complete and realistic design problem to solve. They worked in teams of 4 for a good portion of an afternoon to complete the task. Students had to identify missing information and potential challenges within the problem. The instructor answered questions when asked and kept the teams on the right track as needed, but it was up to the students to work through the process on their own. Below, the instructor responds to inquiries by the teams during the design exercise.

Clockwise from left: Keith Koeppen, Jeff Worthington, Jeremiah Pearce, Eric Pearson, Will Lyons.

Photo by Leann Koon

Clockwise from left:  Eric Pearson, Phil Graham, Steven Gee, Michael Mullen, Luis Torres.

Photo by Leann Koon

The teams continued to work together through some of the troubleshooting exercises.

Clockwise from left:  Samuel Campos (District 6), Richard Montoya (District 10), Eric Pearson, Dave Le (District 6), Berhanu Zergaw (District 3).

Photo by Leann Koon

Clockwise from left:  Luis Torres (District 10), Phil Graham (District 9), Steven Gee (District 5), Michael Mullen (District 3).

Photo by Leann Koon

Here are a few more pictures:

Michael Mullen examines individual fibers in preparation for a troubleshooting exercise. Instructor Eric Pearson answers questions from Dave Le (District 6) about the design problem. Dave Le completes a mechanical splice as Berhanu Zergaw observes.
Keith Koeppen and Jeff Worthington work together on the cable end preparation lab exercise. One team works through the design problem.  Pictured clockwise from front left:  Phil Graham (District 9), Steven Gee (District 5), Michael Mullen (District 3), Luis Torres (District 10).
Richard Montoya inspects a connector using an inspection microscope. On Friday, the instructor (right) involved the entire class in a knowledge test about OTDR testing and reading traces.  Keith Koeppen (left) draws part of a potential trace, the class determined what it was showing, and then another person continued the trace, and so on.
Luis Torres works through one of the spreadsheet exercises during the design section of the course. Steven Gee prepares fiber ends before completing a fusion splice.

Photos by Doug Galarus and Leann Koon

Read more about what’s next for the PCB project in a future update!