CCCC-Harnett Open House showcases career opportunities
Central Carolina Community College's Harnett County Campus celebrated Advanced Manufacturing Awareness ... (more)
LILLINGTON - Beams of light form colorful images on the wall of a darkened laser lab at Central Carolina Community College's Harnett County Campus. Student Joseph Price demonstrates how argon/krypton laser beams, which are used in medical procedures such as eye surgery, can be configured to create a light show of pictures and colors.
Price and several other students enrolled in the Laser and Photonics Technology program at CCCC were on hand to greet the public and explain the many career opportunities associated with the program at an April 8 open house celebrating Advanced Manufacturing Awareness Week.
Promoted by the North Carolina Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, Advanced Manufacturing Awareness Week was created to showcase manufacturing and industrial academic programs and career opportunities within North Carolina.
Gary Beasley, lead instructor for the Laser and Photonics Technology program, said the field represents a wealth of career opportunities for students.
"We focus on anything dealing with electronics and electrical light energy or photonics," Beasley said. "Our students learn how to build optics and lasers, how to use them and install them and repair them for medical and manufacturing applications."
Laser and Photonics Technology is a high tech program that focuses on understanding the application of electronic, fiber optic, photonic and laser principles. The focus of CCCC's program on application rather than theory leads to almost immediate entry into the work environment as well as the ability to use the acquired skills in a variety of work settings -- from medical to manufacturing to business.
Most Laser and Photonics Technology graduates earn starting salaries of $35,000 to $60,000. Graduates are employed as laser technicians, manufacturing test technicians, fiber optic technicians, and field service and electronic technicians. In addition, many jobs are now available in the medical field, where graduates can apply their skills in biophotonic medical applications, medical treatments and procedures.
Graduates of the Laser and Photonic Technology program can receive an Associate in Applied Science degree and/or a certification in electronics. Many of Beasley's May graduates have already been hired by major companies.
"Cree hires a lot of our students," he said. "The company uses both electronic and photonic technologies. With the hands-on experience our students receive in both, Cree really likes our graduates."
A few steps away from the science building, Edwin Thomas, chair of the Computer Integrated Machinery program, stands in front of several imposing machines. Students enrolled in the program can specialize in mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, industrial systems technology, computer engineering, or welding. They learn basic machining skills and introductory computer numerical control, as well as the fundamentals of machining tool and die and mold making.
The Computer Integrated Machinery program also emphasizes both the building of production tools and the operation of automated equipment. Students also receive training throughout the program in computer-aided drafting and manufacturing practices. Related coursework includes blueprint reading, mathematics and quality assurance theory. The college offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science in Machining Technology with a Concentration in Tool, Die and Mold Making, as well as diploma and certificate programs in Machining Technology.
"Even in this weak economy, we haven't had any problems placing our students," said Thomas. "Two were hired last week at a salary of $40,000 annually and many others have been hired by major companies such as National Mechanical Carbon, a company that makes jet engine components, Boone Edam, a manufacturer of escalators and elevator products, and Magneti Marelli, a manufacturer of automotive components."
Both Thomas and Stephen Athans, dean of Vocational and Technical programs at CCCC, attribute the success of the programs to the hands-on experience students receive at Central Carolina. "We're probably one of the first colleges in the state where students receive a basic foundation in a technology and can go right into industry as soon as they graduate," Athans said.
For more information about CCCC's engineering and industrial technologies programs, visit www.cccc.edu.
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