Training Is Key
On Oct. 29, Club Counselor Rick Lawrence paid a visit to an incredibly important location – the Caltrans training facility called META, where several Club Members are hard at work managing the training of the next generation of road repairers.
The Maintenance Equipment Training Academy (META) trains Caltrans maintenance workers and equipment operators in the safe and proper use of motorized equipment. META also oversees and trains qualifiers to administer the Caltrans equipment qualification program. This training is available to all Caltrans maintenance employees.
The facility also handles electrical and safety training, and provides a leadership academy.
The Alive! Interview
Rick Lawrence interviewed Lindsay Mendonca, Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA), Caltrans, 18 years of State service, Club Member, for the lowdown on what the META facility is all about.
Rick Lawrence: Lindsay, thanks for giving us a tour of the META facility today, and for answering our questions.
Lindsay Mendonca: Sure!
Give us a brief overview of your career path.
Okay. I started out as an Office Assistant and worked my way up to a Program Technician 1, then Program Technician 2.
As an Office Tech and Program Tech, I was with the Secretary of State’s Office in Sacramento. Then I moved to the Department of Social Services as a Program Tech II and became a Disability Evaluation Analyst. Then I moved to the Dept. of Corrections as a Staff Services Analyst, where I was promoted to an AGPA, like I am now, and then I was able to transfer to Caltrans.
Got it. How long have you been here at the META facility?
What are your basic duties in laymen’s terms?
I handle all of the day-to-day facility operations, making sure everything’s up and running as far as the facility goes. I handle basic IT requests. I handle contracts, hiring, budgets.
Lots of important things!
But there’s a Facility Supervisor above you, correct?
Yes. That’s Joel Allen.
The META Facility
Okay, great. Let’s talk about this facility now.
The facility is comprised of a bunch of different types of training. META is specifically the equipment portion.
Oh, I see.
But most people just call the whole facility META, and that’s okay, too. There are a lot of different pieces besides just the equipment training portion.
And you personally work with all the pieces, not just the equipment.
Got it. So what happens here? Give us a description of this facility, not just the equipment.
Sure. So we train on heavy equipment – we’ve talked about that. We also have electrical training for all of the electricians who program signal lighting. We also have an Equipment Management office that oversees all of the equipment that the Division of Maintenance has. We also have Safety — we have a person here who is the liaison to the field on all things related to safety. And then we also have a Leadership Academy that’s here for all Lead Workers, Managers and Supervisors.
Does every Caltrans employee have to come through here for training?
Every Caltrans employee who works for the Division of Maintenance should come through this office at least once, if not several times, in their career.
Are there official certifications that come through here? Is the training here required for some certifications?
Some of our classes are required by outside agencies. Cal/OSHA mandates the forklift training, so we handle that out of this office. There’s also the New Employee Maintenance Orientation, or NEMO, and those are all new hires and every new employee should come through here for that class. They’re all required to.
Are there other facilities throughout the state that do the same thing as this facility?
No. This is the only one. However, our employees do travel to other locations throughout the state to give the same training that we do here.
How many people work here?
About 20 people.
How many come through here on a weekly or monthly basis?
Oh, wow. Usually through this office we’ll train 3,000 employees per year, whether in our facility or out in the districts.
That’s a lot.
That’s amazing, actually. How long has this facility been up and running?
I believe this facility’s been here since the early 2000s, maybe 2001.
Were a lot of things consolidated into this facility?
It started out in San Luis Obispo, then it moved to Whitmore, and then it came here.
Passion for Excellence
Do you like your job?
I love my job.
I can tell! What do you love about your job?
In the 18 years that I’ve been with the State, the last six years that I’ve been at Caltrans have been the best. I get to interact with so many different people, and I never know what I’m going to be doing from day to day. It’s always changing. I may come in thinking I’m going to get one task done and then something comes up and completely, completely changes that, like maybe somebody wants to come do an interview but I was supposed to be at a budget meeting. [laughter]
I presume you mean us!
It’s fine! This is important.
Are your responsibilities here growing?
I don’t know that they’re growing. But the responsibilities of our office are always growing. There’s always more training, and there’s always something to be done here.
Talk about the people here. Is it a good group of people?
I like the people here. It’s a good group.
The Power of the Club
What do you love about the Club?
I like the discounts, obviously. They’re great. The movie tickets — my kids love to see movies all the time, and this is one way we can afford to do it.
It is amazing what families are able to afford because of the discounts.
Yes. For the five of us to go to an evening movie, I think it’s roughly about $70, but with the Club discount it’s only $40-something. Which is huge.
How is your family, by the way?
Super, thanks for asking.
That’s great to hear! Lindsay, thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed it.
Sure thing, Rick!