NRCC Students Primed for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA— This past month, the New River Valley Alliance was invited to tour New River Community College, along with Radford University’s President Brian Hemphill and several other community and business leaders. The tour and discussions focused on how NRCC prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing and technology.

New River Community College emphasizes real-world experience, and one of its goals is to develop curricula that enable students to find jobs in their field here in the New River Valley.  Not only does the college invest in the latest manufacturing technologies, but it also partners with local businesses to tailor programs to an employer’s specific needs (i.e. if there is a particular material that companies want future employees to be skilled in using, the business often donates samples of the material to NRCC to use).

In the Machine Technology program, John Somervell, Assistant Professor of Machine Shop Technology, teaches a group of 35 to 40 students each year the techniques required for a twenty-first century machinist.  It’s a tight space filled with simulators, lathes, and milling machines, and John explained that he can’t place students fast enough.  Although he advises students to complete their two-year degree to earn higher wages, some inevitably leave the program early for full-time employment—their skillset is that high in demand.

The program equips students to become machine tool operators—lathe operators, drill press operators, inspectors and tool crib attendants—all positions that employers like Federal MogulKollmorgenMoogWolverine Advanced Materials, and other New River Valley employers need.

The Instrumentation and Control Automation program, on the other hand, prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing at employers like CelaneseAmerican Electric PowerHollingsworth & Vose, andTechLab.  With a starting salary well into the $50 to 60k+ range, Instrumentation is popular at NRCC with over 150 students enrolled in the two-year program (55 students in their final year).

Much of the Instrumentation program’s success is due to Montie Fleshman, Professor of Instrumentation Technology, who piloted several innovative flex courses that incorporate both online and classroom teaching.  Since students can now access recorded lectures online, incompletion rates dropped from 30% to 3%.  Montie also dialogues with employers to develop new labs that meet workforce needs.  As a result, New River Community College created a state-of-the-art mechatronics lab which teaches students how to combine electronics, mechanics, and computing into a streamlined process—a skillset that most advanced manufacturing and engineering employers look for in today’s graduates.

Advanced Manufacturing today requires that students learn a mix of electronic, mechanic, and computer science skills—whether testing a gas turbine or producing advanced materials for the automotive industry.  From teaching students the newest in techniques and technologies to introducing them to local employers looking to expand their workforce, New River Community College primes students for successful careers in advanced manufacturing.


Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for a beautiful place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of both worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s A NATURAL FIT.

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *