NCC’s Electrical Programs Celebrate 50 Years

The history of Iowa’s Community College system spans back to the early 1940s. Due to post-war economic transformation and the passage of the federal GI Bill, the need for accessible higher education opportunities became more prominent. This sparked the planning for a new educational system in the state of Iowa. The studies conducted and decisions made during this planning period are what led to the formation of Iowa’s Community College system today.

Northwest Iowa Community College began as a Vocational High School in 1964 and offered classes in auto mechanics, auto body and fender repair, welding, and eventually office education to area high school students. The passing of the Merged Area Schools Act in 1965 led NCC (then Northwest Iowa Vocational School) to become a community college. During this time, the area workforce was in need of trained individuals in skilled trades. Northwest Iowa Vocational School, or NIVS, helped to fill the skills gaps in the local workforce by offering quality programs that produced skilled workers. One of the first programs developed to help fill the skill gap in the workforce was Electrical Maintenance (now known as Industrial & Commercial Wiring).

The history of NCC’s electrical programs began in 1969 at what alumni and past instructors remember as the “old Ford garage” in downtown Sheldon. This is where Electrical Maintenance Instructor, Bob De Haan, taught his first class of eleven Electrical Maintenance students. The students that completed the eight-quarter program would be prepared for employment in the electrical construction trade and repair industry, in residential and commercial building type wiring, installation, maintenance, and diagnosis of electrical systems. In addition to instructing for NIVS, De Haan was also the owner of his own electrical business. From the beginning, the College brought in only those instructors that could bring real-life experience to the classroom.

The Electro-Specialist program was added to NIVS’s program offerings in 1971. This program was added as an extension to the Electrical Maintenance program. Students that completed this program would be prepared to work with industrial electronics and could seek employment in the complex electro industry of the 1970s. The groups of students from the first two Electrical Maintenance classes joined together and became the first-ever Electro-Specialist graduates from NIVS in 1972.

Over the next three decades, the Electrical Maintenance and Electro-Specialist programs continued to change with the technology of the electrical field. Various concepts, such as the National Electric Code and licensing requirements, were added into the curriculum. As trends in the industry changed and advanced, these changes were reflected in the program’s curriculum and name. One of the most prominent changes in this thirty year span was the addition of the Electrical Technology program in 1989.

Prior to 1989, students pursuing the Electrical programs at NCC were required to choose their educational path right away, whether they wanted to be employed as an Electrician or employed in positions dealing with Industrial Electronics. The addition of the Electrical Technology program added flexibility and opportunity. Through this new program, students could get training in both areas and have expanded career options upon graduation. These career options consisted of Residential & Commercial Electrician, Process Controls Technician, or Plant Maintenance Technician, to name a few.

Over the past 50 years, the Electrical programs at NCC have continued to grow and change along with the highly technical electrical industry. Thanks to support and collaboration from program advisory committee members, internship cooperative sites, alumni, and retirees, the Industrial & Commercial Wiring and Electrical Technology programs continue to be among the most sought after programs offered at NCC today. This contributed to the NCC Electrical programs being recognized as the number one program in the nation in 2018 by! Since 1969, these programs have produced nearly 1,000 graduates who have gone on to be Residential & Industrial Electricians, Business Owners, Process Controls Technicians, Electrical Maintenance Technicians, Supervisors, Foremen, and Directors of Electrical companies and various departments. Almost every electrical business in Northwest Iowa (and many outside of the region) has a relationship with NCC, whether it’s owned by an alum, employs alumni, or employs current students through internship opportunities.

To find out more call 800-352-4907, email, or visit our website at  At NCC – Your Success is Our Story!