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Two Decades of Collaboration: GAHH and CNM Electrical Trades Program

Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity (GAHH) and CNM’s Electrical Trade Program have collaborated for 25 years to create a win-win partnership in which students gain real-world experience and Habitat is able to build affordable homes more efficiently.

Each semester, students spend time learning in the classroom and working in the labs and then head out to the Habitat job site to perform the necessary electrical wiring on a home. Because the students do all the work under close supervision of an instructor who is also a licensed electrician, GAHH does not have to pay an electrician, reducing the cost of building each home by as much as $12,000.

Phalen Gavaldon, CNM Electrical Trades department chair, instructor and business owner said, “I see the relationship between CNM and Habitat as a mutual benefit. The students are providing a service to the community and applying curriculum they have learned in the classroom in a real-life experience. Habitat saves tons of money and the students get tons of experience.”

CNM Electrical Trade students can earn their Associates Degree in two years, obtain required certificates while in school and take the test to be an electrician a year earlier than if they had apprenticed with an electrician. One student said, “I chose CNM instead of going through a union to learn the electrical trade because CNM has the best labs in the state and at the same time we receive hands on experience working on the homes Habitat is building.”

Another student who spent 30 years working in finance decided she wanted to change careers and now works part time at CNM while taking classes in the Electrical Trade Program. When asked about her training she said, “It’s an invaluable experience working on new homes and it’s very different then working in the labs on campus. Don’t get me wrong, the labs are very realistic, but this is real life, working on the job site we get to run wires up and through an entire house.”

Bill Reilly, GAHH’s Construction Manager and enthusiastic supporter of the program said, “Habitat simply provides homes for a project-based learning experience, Phelan and his well-trained students do the rest. The level of commitment, dedication and loyalty to his program, his students and to Habitat is unparalleled. They have completed the electrical rough in and trim out on 29 homes in the past 6 years with top quality workmanship. The contributions of the program are immeasurable and they have been a tremendous asset for our affiliate in providing affordable housing for families in Albuquerque.”

Learn more about the houses GAHH is currently building

Check out the CNM Electrical Trades Program

CNM Electrical Trade students working at the Mesa del Rio job site.
CNM Electrical Trades student receiving on-the-job training at Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity’s Mesa del Rio job site.



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