TimPhototim russell, avista

Tim Russell has done a lot of different work in his lifetime. He’s been a pharmacy technician, and he’s built Gibson guitars. But he’s primarily worked in manufacturing, and several years ago he was looking for something not as physically demanding.

He also knew he wanted a two-year degree since he wanted to get back to work quickly. “I had been to community college before. I earned an electronics degree when I was younger in Portland so I knew it was a really good value,” he says. “And when I was looking to go to school here in Spokane, I wanted to try a Spokane community college first.”

Tim had some experience in computer-aided drafting (CAD), and he went to talk with David Edwards, department chair of architectural technology at Spokane Community College (SCC). “I talked it over with him, and it just fit perfectly. It gives you a lot of options.” He relished the studio feel of the courses. Students are assigned work stations they remain at through the program as they learn and work on projects. They learn construction methods, building codes and a lot of AutoCAD.

“I just really enjoyed it,” he says. “I had always liked working with my hands and construction and carpentry, so it was a natural for me.” Now, Tim uses skills he honed at SCC every day. He is a Volt contractor on assignment as a drafter at Avista, where he has been for more than a year. “I’ve really loved working here. It’s a great place to work,” he says.

He primarily creates drawings for Avista, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Idaho Department of Transportation that show where power poles are near highways throughout the region. He explains they use the drawings to show the critical zones – where poles are near the highways. The poles need to be a certain distance from the highways for safety. “I like that end of it,” he says. “That I’m actually helping to keep things safe out there.”

see more of tim’s story!

read more alumni stories