Student and Graduate Spotlight - Manufacturing

Becoming part of the future

DianeDiane Page went to work for Steel Heddle when she was just 18, and though the work was hard and the environment was dirty, she enjoyed the job and rose through the ranks to become a lead set-up operator and supervisor. After 39 years with the company, her world shifted in 2012 when it was announced at work that the company would be sold.

Thanks to the Trade Adjustment Act, Diane had the opportunity to attend Greenville Technical College. Though she could have chosen any field, she wanted to remain in manufacturing and seeing the opportunities for machinists, she entered the Machine Tool Technology program.

Much has changed in manufacturing since Diane first went to work. Jobs require a higher skill level, and on-the-job experience must be backed up with a credential. The environment is also very different. The shop floor is clean, and though the work is still challenging, it demands more brain power than anything else. With her new degree, Diane has changed along with manufacturing, and now she looks forward to becoming part of the future in this promising field.

GTC to GE Gas Turbines

manuf-Mathew TillmannFour semesters at Greenville Technical College took Matthew Tillmann straight from high school graduation into an excellent job as a welder with GE Gas Turbines. Instructors, he said, were the key to his success, thanks to a strong interest in his progress and industry connections that paved the way. GE employees themselves, the instructors let Matthew know the company was hiring and helped him meet the expectations, guiding him through practice so that he would pass the weld test. “After all the hard work, I am currently a welder at GE Gas Turbines, all thanks to a few of my instructors,” Tillmann said. “They were with me every step of the way. They will help you with certifications and with looking for the right jobs in the right places.”

World of Opportunity

JuliaJulia knows there's a world of opportunity in manufacturing, and she wants an education that will get her into a global company quickly. 

In the Mechatronics Program at Greenville Technical College, she's gaining the skills she needs in high-tech problem solving thanks to a two-year curriculum that's heavy in hands-on experience. If you want an education that will take you into some of today's growing fields fast, we'll help you get there.

High-tech path to success

imt-Armbruster2Jim Armbruster spent years learning his way around a restaurant, but three years ago, he felt the need to try something new.

Armbruster worked his way up from waiting tables to working as a sous chef, but getting married changed his way of life. He wanted a challenging career with stability and opportunity for advancement.

The mechatronics program at Greenville Technical College's Brashier Campus helped Armbruster find a high tech career path that suits him well.

"Mechatronics is a blend of mechanical and electrical backgrounds," Armbruster said. "It also deals with robotics as well. I wanted to make a career change. It was a blessing. I loved it. It was exactly what I was looking for."

Armbruster said the training he received at Greenville Technical College has been put to practical use in his job at Michelin. Classes went beyond theoretical notions and taught him how to do his job.

"I liked the instructors and how they put the real world knowledge behind it," he said.

The program took two years to complete, with Armbruster working - sometimes two or three jobs - while in college. Armbruster said he left the restaurant industry because he wanted benefits and stability.

"I looked around and saw that no one was retiring," he said.

The career requires adaptability and a desire to learn and grow with new technology.

"It's continual learning," he said. "I was prepared for the basics and I had a good foot in the door. I am continually learning in this industry as technology changes. In the last year at Greenville Tech, I came on to Michelin and worked 20 hours a week and they paid for my college. The combination of working at Michelin and going to Greenville Tech really benefited me. It allowed me to see it in application and in study."

Armbruster gained the part-time work as a Michelin Tech Scholar. The program gave him on-the-job experience but didn't guarantee employment after graduation. He had to reapply for a full-time job with the company and was required to take a test to demonstrate his proficiency in the mechatronics field.

"I passed it as soon as I got out of school," he said. "They prepared me for what I needed."

Armbruster credits his success to the rigor of the program and professors who challenged him at every turn.

"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be where I am," he said. "They make you dig and find answers. You had to work to get to where they wanted you to be."

But the hard work has paid off. Armbruster said he has a career he loves and the promise of a bright future for his family.

"It has benefited me greatly," he said. "To work for a great company like Michelin, it is great. I have benefits. I have a 401(k). The company takes care of me and in return, I work hard."

Armbruster said his life change was spurred by his new role but made possible by the program offered by Greenville Technical College.

"Before, it was just me," he said. "When I got married, it wasn't about me anymore. I wanted to have stability and provide for my family."

From The Greenville News Guide to Higher Education, October 2012