Kirk Lowry completes second apprenticeship
Oct. 5, 2016
Kirk Lowry has an appetite for learning new things, which is why he has spent six of his 10 years at Facility Operations as an apprentice. In January, he graduated from his second apprenticeship to become a certified elevator technician.
Lowry began a four-year electric apprenticeship at IU in 2007, six months after being hired at Facility Operations. But he was drawn to the complexity and sophistication of elevators, so he applied for when the elevator apprenticeship when it opened in 2013.
Given his prior electrical experience and aptitude, he was able to test out of the first two years.
Kirk’s father, building systems assistant director Andrew Lowry, said his decision to take on another apprenticeship was far from out of character. As a child, Kirk challenged himself constantly. He’d get interested in a subject, study it and then excel in it.
"There isn’t anything he’s done that he hasn’t succeeded at," Andrew said.
Kirk Lowry began as an hourly worker at Facility Operations just out of high school, when he was 19 years old. He said he loves working with his hands and didn’t think a classroom environment would be the best place for him to learn.
"I need to be active," Lowry said.
The apprenticeship structure fit with Lowry’s preferred way of learning. It includes four hours each week in class, but those hours don’t confine the apprentices to a classroom. Lowry said they often learned in the field, solving mock problems and putting their textbook to practical use.
As an electrician before the apprenticeship, Lowry had a reputation as a good worker with strong troubleshooting skills, building systems elevator supervisor Brian Smith said.
Smith said it’s extremely rare for someone to complete two apprenticeships, and equally rare to test out of two years. He says Lowry also has a great demeanor around customers and often leaves them with a new appreciation for the trade.
Now as a journey level elevator mechanic, Lowry is in charge of a route of 62 elevator units, including passenger elevators, wheelchair lifts, stage lifts and escalators. He performs monthly maintenance on the machines and determines what they need and when for optimal operation.
He said he enjoys working with the broad spectrum of technology, from the 1940s relay logic to the computer-based systems of today. While he’s proud of having completed two apprenticeships, he said he doesn’t plan to do another one -- especially now that he’s a husband and father of two kids.
"I’m happy where I’m at," Lowry said.