Instructor Profile: Jay Nickelson

You Should Get to Know Jay Nickelson

Job Description:

I am a Telecommunications Networking Instructor at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) West Campus in West Des Moines. I have been teaching at DMACC since 2000.


I grew up in Chariton. I was in the United States Coast Guard for five years. Then I attended Peru State College in Nebraska

Defining telecommunications:

I tell people Telecommunications is our world today; smart phones, landline phones, internet to our homes and businesses. Telecommunications allows voice, video and Internet communications to take place across town and across the globe. WIFI or wireless connections, wired copper and fiber optics link our world and must be installed and maintained by telecom professionals. The network is growing and so is the demand for telecommunications workers. Iowa's newest crop has been called server farms. Recent announcements by Facebook and Google to open server farms or data centers in the Des Moines area means more job opportunities for telecommunications professionals.

First interest in telecommunications:

I have always been fascinated with wires, technology and computers. My love of telecommunications developed during my time in the Coast Guard. I worked on navigation systems, radio communications and other electronics on ships and planes.

Changing Technology:

The work is fascinating because the field is always changing. A fiber optic cable the size of a human hair can carry 100 times more data than the lines that were being installed just a few years ago that were the size of a telephone poll. The new technology is getting even smaller and faster.

Why I love my job:

The most rewarding part of being a teacher is seeing students start new careers with companies of all types. DMACC Telecommunications Program graduates work at hospitals, virtual-reality companies, financial institutions and many of the 150 independent telecom companies in Iowa.


Network security is an important part of the telecommunications field. It used to mean just physically locking the doors to the telephone room or computer room. Now networks have to be monitored 24 hours a day. The DMACC curriculum has evolved to include more information security and digital forensics courses. Many DMACC graduates are working in network security for Iowa companies.

What I do when I'm not at DMACC:

I love teaching others about technology. I have done volunteer work at retirement centers, teaching seniors how to use computers. I also enjoy gardening.

For more information about telecommunications: or 515-633-2455