Mattee Caldwell Shines in SkillsUSA Telecommunications Cabling Competition

Ed Rottmann

In a remarkable display of talent and dedication, Mattee Caldwell – the daughter of Chroma Energy Group’s Senior Site Superintendent Matt Caldwell – achieved an impressive milestone earlier this year by winning first place in the SkillsUSA telecommunications cabling competition. With Chroma Energy Group proudly sponsoring her journey, Mattee represented Tennessee at the national competition in Atlanta last week.

“We’re proud to support Mattee Caldwell’s journey through SkillsUSA,” said Chroma CEO Ed Rottmann. “Her dedication and success exemplify the values of our company—innovation, excellence, and community support. Sponsoring talented individuals like Mattee is an investment in the future of our industry, and we are excited to see her continue to excel on the national stage.”

A Family Legacy in Renewable Energy

Mattee’s success is part of a larger family story within Chroma. Her father, Matt Caldwell, has been in the renewable energy industry for over a decade. Matt’s journey began around 2009, when he discovered a training program for entry-level solar work – sparking his passion for the industry.

“I had respect for the skill the guys doing it had, and that made me want to become the best solar guy in the country,” Matt recalled. “I started learning everything I could soak up. Got some certifications, licenses, experience doing everything involved with building a solar farm.”

Matt’s dedication paid off when he became a supervisor around 2015. His experience spans numerous positions within the field, showcasing the potential for growth and success in the renewable energy sector.

The Caldwell family’s involvement in the industry doesn’t stop with Matt and Mattee. Matt’s son, Obie, who recently turned 18, is also following in his father’s footsteps. Matt explained, “I would take him to jobs originally to spend time with him and get him around smart hardworking people. He’s currently onsite with me and probably has the second most solar experience of any worker here.”

“I believe people in construction need to learn multiple trades and aspects of projects and that’s what I’ve tried to teach him,” he added.

Mattee’s Journey to the Top

SkillsUSA is recognized as the leading workforce development organization for students, empowering them to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders, and responsible community members. Mattee’s journey with SkillsUSA began with her participation in the telecommunications cabling competition, where she demonstrated her expertise in both hands-on and written events.

Contestants demonstrate a wide range of skills in the telecommunications cabling competition, including fiber and copper cable termination, cable pulling and mounting, patch panel installation and termination, jack installation, cable testing and troubleshooting, and customer service. The competition covers both copper and fiber optics cables and emphasizes safety in all activities. 

The contests are meticulously planned by the Skills Technical Committee to assess the necessary skills for successful entry-level performance in the field. 

When asked why she values SkillsUSA, Mattee shared, “SkillsUSA gave me the ability to compete in real-world, hands-on competitions to show my mastery of telecommunications cabling.”

Mattee’s journey to the state competition involved rigorous preparation and dedication. She competed against students from all regions of Tennessee, showcasing her skills in various cabling events. Her hard work and determination paid off, earning her first place and a spot at the national competition.

SkillsUSA has not only provided Mattee with immediate recognition but also promises long-term benefits. 

“SkillsUSA is something I can always put on my resume. It will help me stand out against others when applying for future jobs,” she said.

Bridging the Gender Gap in Renewable Energy

Mattee’s success in the SkillsUSA competition highlights an important aspect of the skilled trades, including in solar energy: the need to recruit more women into the field-based workforce. As the industry strives to meet ambitious energy transition goals, diversity in the workforce becomes increasingly crucial.

“Mattee is an excellent example of the interest young women are showing in the trades,” says CEO Ed Rottmann. “This is so important for our industry’s future. We need diverse perspectives and talents to drive innovation and meet the challenges of the energy transition.”

Chroma Energy Group’s support of the Caldwell family exemplifies the company’s unique culture. By encouraging family involvement and supporting the next generation of workers, Chroma is building a strong foundation for the future of renewable energy.

“The kids enjoy being involved, and it pushes them to learn what interests them and be a part of something great,” Matt said. “They had the ability to figure out their paths at a young age because I’m fortunate enough to work in a place that has the values we live by at Chroma.”

Mattee’s journey, along with the stories of her father and brother, serves as an inspiration to many. It showcases the potential for growth, learning, and success in the renewable energy industry, regardless of age or gender.

“Involving the kids in our work has sparked their curiosity and encouraged them to explore their own interests within the industry,” Matt said. “It’s been wonderful to see them become part of something meaningful. While they’re both charting their own paths – Mattee is set on pursuing fiber optics after completing her education, and Obie is aiming to become a heavy equipment mechanic – their early exposure to this field has undoubtedly shaped their career aspirations.”

Chroma Energy Group’s commitment to fostering young talent, supporting families, and contributing to workforce development is clear. As the company continues to empower the next generation of skilled professionals, it’s building solar farms alongside a brighter, more sustainable future for all.