A 2021 Alamance Community College graduate is one happy young man. He knows his decision to enroll at the school and simultaneously apply for a Career Accelerator Program apprenticeship sealed his future at a young age.
Jace Walker of Burlington has become the first apprentice at Engineered Controls International, LLC in Whitsett to complete the Career Accelerator Program (CAP) by earning his associate degree on May 14.
Jace graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Mechatronics Engineering Technology while working an apprenticeship that also provides him with a Journeyman’s Certificate from the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Jace is one of many ACC students who have benefited from this initiative in which local industries have partnered with ACC to offer apprenticeships. As a win-win initiative, companies have an opportunity to develop talent for needed positions and students can earn while they learn and start good-paying, strategic careers.
The Career Accelerator Program is a partnership program between the Alamance-Burlington School System, Alamance Community College, the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturing companies.
Jace enrolled in ACC’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program because he knew it was a good-paying field in which he could find a job by age 21. Paired with his apprenticeship as a member of the maintenance team at RegO’s Rock Creek facility in Whitsett, Jace spent one year in the department developing his mechanical, electrical, and troubleshooting skills. A transfer opportunity allowed him to join the automation group at the Rock Creek facility.
“Actually, being in the apprenticeship program here at Rock Creek helped me in my mechatronics studies at ACC,” said Jace. “I was able to take skills I learned while at work and apply them in what I was learning and vice-versa.”
Thus far, this has been a four-year journey in which Jace has learned and developed his skill set around robotics, PLCs, toolmaking, and pneumatics. The development and progression continues, but Jace is already viewed as an automation technician.
Said Bill Holt, New Program/Automation Manager: “From the day that Jace started in the automation group, he has been a top performer and a key contributor. He has established himself as a go-to resource within the Rock Creek facility. From a company perspective, Jace has exceeded expectations and the Career Accelerator Program has absolutely delivered to its goals.
“From my perspective, I have said and will continue to say that the automation group won the lottery when we found Jace. He is self-motived, a quick learner and a good worker. Most importantly and most impressively, Jace is a great person. The Career Accelerator Program is designed to be a mentorship program. With Jace, I often wonder who is mentoring who.”
And Jace Walker, now graduated and working full-time, appears to be one happy young man.
“I really do love this company,” said Jace. “By the end of my schooling, my co-workers and supervisors were rooting for me to earn my degree. This apprenticeship and schooling program puts you so far ahead.”