Next Up: Electrical Engineer
After making a career jump from electrician to designer, Jeremy Collins returned to the college to complete the electrical engineering technology degree he started 25 years earlier.
After making a career jump from electrician to designer, Jeremy Collins returned to John Tyler Community College, now Brightpoint, to master AutoCAD and complete the electrical engineering technology degree he started 25 years earlier.
Now with one degree in hand, he’s expanding his mechanical engineering expertise with a second degree to strengthen his work with diverse engineering teams at design-build firm ITAC.
Here’s how Tyler/Brightpoint paid off for his career advancement:
Learn in-demand skills to rise above
When Jeremy decided to switch electrical field work for designing electrical concepts, he knew he needed drafting skills.
“I needed to take AutoCAD in order to perform my actual job duties as a designer,” Jeremy said. “Tyler helped me to go from not knowing anything about AutoCAD to understanding the basics.”
He also went from an electrician who installs a drawing package in the field to a designer who sets the design concepts, drawings and specs for electricians to follow.
“Being on the design side of things now, I have a totally different outlook on the industry,” Jeremy said. “Working with actual clients and owners is very gratifying. I learn how their processes work and some of the problems they've had in the past, which helps us prevent mistakes, puts us all on the same page and gets us to the same common goal.”
With a background as a residential and commercial electrician, he also needed industrial expertise to serve ITAC’s predominantly industrial client base. Earning a certificate in industrial electricity made him more competitive on the job.
“Some companies hire our employees to come in and perform the work at their facility for either design or construction management,” Jeremy said. “Having this credential opens up the possibility for me being selected to do that work.”
"Taking classes at Tyler gave me confidence to take the master electrician test and brought me up to speed on the latest code."
Build the confidence to achieve your goals
Long after getting his Journeyman Electrician license, Jeremy made it a personal goal to get his Master Electrician license. It would allow him to get a contractor’s license and perform electrical work if he ever started his own business.
“If you pass the test to get your Journeyman’s card and don’t pursue your Master Electrician license within the first year, most people won’t ever go back and try to reach that goal,” Jeremy said. “Taking classes at Tyler and being able to ask questions in the classroom gave me confidence to take the Master Electrician test and brought me up to speed on the latest code since I’d been in the field for so long.”
Roll up your sleeves with the best
Specifically, his professors with extensive backgrounds in electrical engineering helped him build the confidence and knowledge to troubleshoot installations in the field.
“Hands-on labs like the ones Joe Noone teaches builds up your confidence level,” Jeremy said. “He’s a great instructor and comes from an electrical background in theme parks and process facilities.”
In Tyler’s classrooms, he was able to practice on advanced technology used in the workplace.
“One of the coolest things at Tyler is that we get access to the latest and greatest technology,” Jeremy said. “Companies like Altria are major contributors in helping Tyler get new equipment. They send some of their employees to the program as well. So it's in their best interest to make sure that their employees have the best tools to work with.”
Next, he turned to Tyler to help him deepen his mechatronics expertise so that he can be a more effective designer serving teams of electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineers.
After 15 years working in IT, one hospital stay inspired Anissa Ellis to change her career to help others. She earned her degree in nursing at Tyler, and is now a branch director with a home health company, helping nurses make an impact in lives across the area.
At the college, returning student and single mom Elena Brancato gained the confidence to soak up the full college experience. When she transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University to continue her studies in communications, she was ahead of the curve, having already completed a PR project for a real client.
Joe Detmer had the opportunity to move into a new role at work. The catch? It required electrical skills he didn’t have. To get up to speed, Joe took classes and now has the right qualifications to move forward in today’s fast-paced workplace, all while staying with the company he’s worked with for decades.