ATETV Episode 11: Learning at Any Age

This week we meet students with three different circumstances: a recent community college grad out in the workforce, a returning professional changing careers, and current students who got a jump start on their ATE classes during high school.

First we meet Travis Blackwell, who’s putting his ATE degree to use as a field service engineer for ESAB, an international Swedish industrial company with welding and cutting equipment manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Travis earned a 2-year degree in electromechanical engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

As part of his studies, Travis completed an internship, where he worked with the same equipment that he now maintains in the field. “College essentially taught me how to think for a higher level, problem solving and to do any sort of analysis whatsoever,” he says. “The hands-on training did help a lot with establishing good fundamentals for the lectures.”

Next we meet Susan Clark, who has gone back to school to pursue a certificate in biotechnology. After the job that had kept her busy for 12 years ended, Susan decided to act on her love of science and study for a new career, and she says she’s not alone in doing so. “There were several people in my class who were just about my age. One was retired looking for something else to do. Another one, he was switching jobs, due to layoffs.” Susan’s biotech studies will prepare her for a new high-tech career, possibly in environmental quality monitoring.

Finally we return to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where several of the current students actually started earning college credits while still in high school. “We need to begin to develop the technical expertise and the technical skills in a much younger child, so that they have the chance to help us create a global competitive environment,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB — the same company that now employs Travis Blackwell. By starting early, students are setting themselves up for successful careers like Travis’.

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