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WTOP - Local data center boom drives demand for electrical engineers


Expanding and diversifying. These are both goals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26.


“The most diverse local union in the country” is how Joe Dabbs, the union’s business manager, describes IBEW Local 26.


Virginia data center projects create jobs "for years to come" ...“It’s an industry that continues to grow, and for the future, we don’t see this industry slowing down for quite some time.”


"You can stay busy in this industry and retire after 30 or 40 years, and you'll have a great life, and be able to raise a great family"

-Joe Dabbs, the union’s business manager


IBEW Local 26 helped secure Digital Gateway project in Prince William County as a prime example of the continuing growth that will “create jobs for years to come.” The 2,100-acre development, with a projected $30 billion in work, will keep electricians busy for at least the next 15 years, Dabbs said.


Seeking diversity in the next-gen electrical engineers:

“We’re looking for STEM students because a lot of the work we do is very heavy in math, science — just with the technology,” he said.

As the tech industry has continued to locate data center campuses in the area, the union has added upwards of 4,000 members, Dabbs said.


What’s more, because data centers require maintenance, as well as expansion and modernization over time, these jobs will create additional work down the road.

 A critical focus of IBEW is diversity and bringing a wide range of people into the electrical engineering field.


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