Equipping Students with Skills in Applied Engineering

Did you know Wilson Community College (WCC) has the only FESTO small-scale packaging line that boxes and stores inventory in a simulated warehouse in all of North America?  And we have a long list of NC3 certifications, with our students earning well more than 100 certifications in the past few years.

Wilson Community College is meeting the skills gap by aligning training with industry needs.  The College’s Applied Engineering Program is a two-year program that teaches students about robotics, automation, PLC programming, hydraulics, machining, and more. Embedded within the curriculum is the opportunity for students to earn over 20 nationally-recognized certifications ranging from precision measurement skills to Applied PLCs. The program is housed at the College’s Lee Technology Center in the old Lee Motor Nissan building. You’d be amazed to see the equipment.  Some of it was even donated by local industries.

And we have recently added a Motors and Controls trainer and the Precision Measurement Instruments (PMI) certification trainer.  The PMI curriculum is designed to meet the expectations of industries like engineering and manufacturing, plus many more.

Our dynamic team of Applied Engineering instructors brings a wealth of academic and industry experience to the classrooms and labs.  Several years ago, Applied Engineering Instructor Joshua Stevens implemented additive manufacturing with medical applications helping physicians working with a patient suffering for years in pain from a misconstrued ribcage.  Mr. Stevens used an MRI file to isolate the patient’s bone structure and build a 1-to-1 ratio model using a 3D printer and several hours of print time.

Rick Harrison, our other lead instructor, started his career 26 years ago as an injection molding apprentice while pursuing his applied engineering education.  He is a graduate of our Applied Engineering program and returns to us after a multitude of industry and educational experiences.  Rick’s passion is sharing his manufacturing knowledge with our students.

Our students are fortunate to learn from Joshua and Rick’s real-world experiences.  Our instructors deliver hands-on training that ensures our students are well prepared for a future in the industry.  Some of our students are full-time students, many are working and coming to school part-time, and some are still in high school.  The Applied Engineering Program is a track for Wilson Academy of Applied Technology (WAAT) students, affording them an opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year degree in just five years.  They’re ready to go to work in a variety of jobs, including industries in our own backyard.

One current WAAT student, Hagan, is working at Linamar and is making quite an impression. Terri Bauer, Human Resources Manager at Linamar, shared, “Hagan’s training with Wilson Community College has been instrumental in his ability to quickly adapt to Linamar’s CNC processes. Hagan not only came to us with a strong understanding of how the machines operate, he clearly understood the importance of being a dependable employee and the value of producing a quality product in an efficient manner. WCC goes beyond the technical skills and truly teaches their students to be the reliable employee that every employer wants to hire.”

Another current WAAT student, Ethan, works at Kaba Ilco.  His supervisor, Scott McNeill, Tooling Engineer/Toolroom Manager, said, “Ethan has impressed everyone he has worked with here at Kaba Ilco. He is very eager to learn new skills, and each time he is exposed to something new, he quickly picks up on it and is ready for the next challenge. I believe he will be a tremendous asset to the company as he develops and grows his job knowledge. I believe Wilson Community College and their program did an excellent job preparing Ethan for the challenges of entering the workforce with the necessary skills to be successful.”  Engineering Manager Debbie Parker added, “We are very impressed with Ethan’s skills and ability to perform job functions with minimal direction. His preparedness for the workforce speaks volumes of the Wilson Community College program.”

And it’s not just Linamar and Kaba Ilco – so many of our local industries are looking at our students. Some get hired while in the program and others right after graduation.  Occupations related to applied engineering are in high demand, require high skills, and produce excellent wages, all of which our program provides and leads to proven pathways of employment.  Graduates of the program are equipped with the skills for jobs in a wide range of positions in research and development, manufacturing, sales, design, inspection, or maintenance. Some career opportunities are in automation, computer, electrical, industrial, or mechanical engineering fields. They are typically engineering technicians.

For example, Industrial Machinery Mechanics have an entry-level salary of up to $32,000, with experienced technicians making over $57,000 a year in North Carolina.  Mechanical Engineers can see an entry-level salary of up to $58,000 per year and an experienced salary close to $100,000.  We train our students to do exactly those jobs.

For more information about the program or to take a tour of the space, contact Travis Flewelling, Dean of Industrial Technologies, at (252) 246-1210 or tflewelling@wilsoncc.edu.

What’s Happening

  • March 14 – First Day of Classes for 2nd 8-week Session
  • March 14-15 – Late Registration for 2nd 8-week Session
  • March 30 – New Student Orientation & Nursing Information Session
  • April 4 – First Day of Summer & Fall Registration
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Severe Weather Alert

Due to the threat of severe weather, the college will be closed on Friday, September 7, 2023.