HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Texas State Technical College electrical lineworker students face their fear of heights with the help of a game of catch in the air.

For many first-semester electrical lineworker and management technology students, trusting their safety equipment and overcoming a fear of heights can be a challenge. The mental block is exactly why Angel Toledo, a TSTC Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology instructor in Harlingen, has incorporated a game to set his students up for success in the program.

Electrical lineworker instructors implement tossing a football to a fellow classmate while both are atop adjacent training poles to help students gain confidence off the ground.

“This helps students become confident and trust their equipment,” Toledo said. “Climbing can come naturally for some students, and it can be more difficult for others. When they progress, they want to learn more.”

Michael Chis, of San Benito, is pursuing a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus and accepted the challenge from instructors to climb the pole during the first week of the fall semester.

“My confidence now is great because I was instructed on how to use the equipment,” Chis said. “At the beginning, it did take me a few times to get adjusted. As for the football activity, it was entertaining. The purpose was for each student to not hold on to their strap or the pole. We also had to climb the pole at a faster speed. If you dropped the football, you had to go back down and work your way back up.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical power-line installers and repairers can earn an average annual salary of $63,770 in Texas. According to onetonline.org there is projected to be a 16% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2018 to 2028.