After spending years in the industry, Corey Persson recognized his enthusiasm for machining and earned his associate degree in Precision Manufacturing in 2021.

“I originally went to school for a bachelor’s in genetics at UNH. I studied there for a few years before leaving because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing,” he said, adding the costs started to add up. “So, I left to work for my two uncles, who own an operate a machine shop in Nashua. And over the next couple of years, I learned the trade while paying down some school debts.”

“I learned how to operate the CNC mills and lathes, read blueprints, set-up jobs, and utilize a multitude of various inspection equipment. I got comfortable with the job and succeeded well enough that I supervised the second shift to ensure all machines were running and fixing any tooling or quality issues that arose, as well as training the employees I supervised.”

Corey said he learned the basics of the trade at his uncles’ shop.

After a couple of years, he realized he was actually enjoying the work. “Because of this I wanted to learn much, much more about the trade. But the shop I worked for wasn’t big enough for me to grow with. So, I was searching for a way to educate myself on my own time outside of work. It wasn’t long until my sister actually pointed me towards the program at NCC, which was fortuitously just down the road from the shop I worked at. I talked to the professors, toured the shop, and the takeaway that I had was that NCC and the Precision Manufacturing program were the perfect fit for me. I think it took me less than a week upon learning of the program to send in my transcripts and apply.”

Looking back, he credited said it’s his professors who really stand out from his college experience. “Now that I’ve completed the program, I find myself thinking about the professors that taught me the most. Clever, informative, and extremely supportive people. They approached the education of machining skills with a pragmatism that I was not expecting. Everything I learned I was almost immediately able to apply to my current work, then as a machinist, and now as a quality engineer for aerospace machined components. I look forward to keeping in touch with them to learn more from them and seek further guidance as I progress through my career.”

The degree pathway had its challenges, compounded by the COVID-19 health crisis. “COVID through a rather large wrench into the program about halfway through my second semester where all in-person teaching was moved to an online format. Machining is very much an in-person, hands-on kind of trade. You can only learn so much through lectures and videos. So, because of COVID, class time was absurdly precious, and every moment needed to be optimized.”

The abrupt start of the pandemic in 2020 threw a lot of responsibility on students. “I challenged myself to complete as much of the coursework as I possibly could despite the truncated in-person lab time. And I’m very proud to say that I was successful in that endeavor. I machined all projects that would’ve been normally required in a normal semester.”

Thanks to his classmate’s coordinated efforts during their capstone experience, they were also able to complete their senior project despite the reduced lab time. “Programming, strategizing, sourcing materials, fixturing, tooling, and finally machining functional parts. Myself and my classmates accomplished it and I was absolutely ecstatic.”

Next up: Mechanical Engineering Technology

“I am starting the mechanical engineering technology program at NCC along the 2+2 pathway to UNH Manchester towards a bachelor’s in the same program. The reason being is I’m simply just not done learning yet and NCC has been such a great place to learn. I’ve been able to easily pay my way thanks to scholarships, such as the Gene Haas Scholarship that was awarded to me all four semesters. NCC made it easy to apply for and visible, and to Gene Haas I am forever grateful for the assistance. And because of that kindness I can pursue higher learning in the mechanical fields. A field that I am endlessly passionate about.”

Corey is currently working in the field as a quality engineer.

“It is an interesting and challenging position that will afford a very promising pathway for growth.”

Advice to future students

“For anyone who is planning on attending NCC, please get to know your professors. They are very knowledgeable people with a wealth of expertise to provide. Not only for the short-term in achieving excellence in their classes, but also in achieving excellence in the field. They helped me be able to graduation Summa Cum Laude from my program, but I have fielded questions that I had concerning my job that has changed several things already and I haven’t even graduated!”

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