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Student Profiles

Haile WhitworthDurham Tech Launches Sustainability Technologies Program
Haile Whitworth had been looking around for a sustainable energy program. “I wanted to start a business installing photovoltaic systems,” he said. He called the director of Durham Tech’s Electrical/ Electronics program, who told him about the college’s plans to begin its new Sustainability Technologies program.

Meanwhile, he said it would be a good idea for me to know more about electricity, so I enrolled in the Electrical/Electronics program for core courses,” Whitworth said. Later he became one of the first students to enroll in the Sustainability Technologies Solar Photovoltaic Installation certificate program. The certificate includes an energy analysis course that introduces technologies that produce energy from renewable sources. These include hydroelectric power, wind power, passive and active solar energy, tidal energy, and other energy production methods. The second course covers solar photovoltaic system installation.

“I like the fact it is an up-and-coming field,” Whitworth said. “I’m learning more about energy preservation and the renewable energy field, which are not as well known. I feel this will open some business opportunities that I may not have been aware of before entering the program.”

The new Solar Photovoltaic Installation certificate is designed for licensed electricians, those pursuing an electrical degree, or those who are working under the supervision of an electrician. Students learn to install, repair, and upgrade sustainable technology systems used by government municipalities, corporations, small businesses, and homeowners.

Durham Tech’s new Sustainability Technologies program is getting lots of attention. “Our instructors are industry professionals who bring real-world knowledge and years of hands-on experience into the classroom,” said Greg Mimmack, the Sustainability Technologies program director. An advisory committee of industry professionals reviews courses and also provides guidance in purchasing equipment for the program. A $250,000 grant from Duke Energy enabled the college to launch this program.

In Fall Semester 2011, Durham Tech will introduce a Renewable Energy diploma program that will include electrical and math courses for students without previous electrical experience. The diploma may be completed in five semesters, including an internship with a local company. Beginning in Fall Semester 2012, the college will offer an Associate in Applied Science degree in Sustainability Technologies that can be completed in six semesters. The degree will prepare students for employment in environmental, construction, alternative energy, sustainable technologies, and related areas.

For more information, contact mimmackg@durhamtech.edu or call 919-536-7200, ext. 8142, or visit the Sustainability Technologies web page.

John FordDurham Tech Graduate Was Well Prepared for FEMA Job
John Ford's job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is multi-faceted, to say the least. His day-to-day role is exercise unit chief for the response directorate. In other words, his unit makes sure that FEMA is prepared to respond to any hazardous event. The team Ford supervises focuses on internal FEMA exercises but also coordinates with the organization's external interagency partners.

If that's not enough excitement, when a disaster is declared, Ford shifts into the role of operations section chief for FEMA's National Response Coordination Center. In the past he has helped manage responses to hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Additionally, he coordinates an urban search and rescue team and an incident management assistance team that are activated during disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti. Some of his responsibilities include coordinating FEMA's participation in National Security Tier I exercises and guarding against terrorist attacks.

“I travel approximately 25 percent of the year,” Ford said. “Most of my travel is to FEMA regional offices to conduct exercises. But I also travel for disaster relief, such as assisting with flood relief efforts in Tennessee.” Ford credits Durham Tech for providing a solid base for his career. After working as a firefighter in Garner, he enrolled in the college's Fire Protection Technology program. The online course component provided the flexibility for Ford to work and also attend college. Ford also took many courses in the Emergency Preparedness curriculum. He went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in Emergency Management from Western Carolina, and he earned a graduate certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Ford spent more than 10 years with the Raleigh Fire Department, achieving the rank of lieutenant before leaving in 2008.

“Fire service was very rewarding and challenging, but I was looking for a new challenge,” he said. “I had thought about transitioning into emergency management and thought the best place to find a new challenge would be working for the federal government, specifically FEMA,” he explained. “Durham Tech was really the launching pad for me both academically and professionally.” Ford is currently working on his master's degree in Public Administration from American University in Washington.

Durham Tech’s Emergency Preparedness Technology curriculum includes management and technical aspects of law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical services, and emergency planning. The associate in applied science degree may be completed in five semesters. The Fire Protection Technology program focuses on fire hazards, fire prevention, and fire service administration. Students learn skills such as calculating pump hydraulics, investigating arson scenes, and treating and disposing of hazardous materials. Graduates of the Fire Protection Technology program receive an associate in applied science degree. Fire Management and Wildland Fire Suppression certificates may be completed in two semesters.

For more information, contact egsegianr@durhamtech.edu or call 919-536-7200, ext. 8062, or visit Emergency Preparedness Technology web page.

Joel ColdrenStudent Uses Web Development Skills at Nationally Recognized Educational Organization
Joel Coldren works as a web development mentor and systems administrator at Shodor, a Durham-based nonprofit company that focuses on ways to expand computational tools in the classroom. Some of Coldren’s responsibilities at Shodor include creating, modifying, and debugging web-based tools and portals written in the JAVA programming language. Coldren grew up in a very hightech family. “But I never considered a career in the computer field,” he recalled. Coldren attended UNC-Chapel Hill but after changing his major several times, he decided to take some time off to figure out the direction for his life.

“I didn't want to go back [to college] until I was ready and had more of a career focus,” Coldren said. One thing he knew was that he didn't want a career that just paid the bills; he wanted a career that would also be interesting. Coldren thought back to his love of technology as a child. First he enrolled in some computer courses at Durham Tech, and later he enrolled in the Computer Programming curriculum.

“The instructors were knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” he recalled. “They gave concrete examples, not something vague.” Coldren loved the atmosphere and small class sizes and particularly enjoyed finding logical solutions for computer problems. He became so engrossed in a topic from one day’s class that he continued to think about new solutions all the way home.

“Some information was difficult,” he said, “but instructors were always willing to answer questions.” While still in college, Coldren accepted an internship at Shodor. The internship went so well that he was offered a full-time job last March.

Coldren continues expanding his skills through evening courses at Durham Tech. His advice to prospective students is to take introductory courses but also to take a broad range of courses to learn all aspects of how computers work. “You'll be more valuable to an employer,” he explained.

Durham Tech's Computer Programming curriculum emphasizes study of computer concepts, logic, programming procedures, languages, operating systems, networking, and data management. Graduates should qualify for a career in business, industry, or government organizations as programmers, programmer/analysts, computer operators, systems technicians, or database specialists.

For more information, contact murphyt@durhamtech.edu or call 919-536-7200, ext. 8157, or visit the Computer Programming web page.

Anjanette EastMother Stays Super Organized with Four Childrenand a Career as a Surgical Technologist
There is hectic and there is hectic. Anjanette East is the mother of 3-year-old triplets and a 13-year-old son who is active in sports. She’s also a surgical technologist at Duke Ambulatory Surgery Center. “I work 4 days and 10-hour shifts,” she said. “I come home, cook dinner, give baths, and have family time. Not long after that, it’s bedtime. My schedule is not much different than anyone else who has a family. Mine is just a little more hectic.” Organization is crucial. “It doesn’t take long for the wheels to fall off if you’re not on top of things,” she noted. She credits family and friends for their support.

East says the most important parts of her job are taking care of the patients’ needs and being a team player. She is assigned an operating room for the day and is responsible for setting up each case and making sure that the surgeons have what they need to operate efficiently. “I assist the surgeons by anticipating their needs, from instruments to supplies,” she said. “Most importantly, I make sure my patient is safe and my sterile field is not compromised. After the surgery is over, I break down my sterile field and take my instruments to decontamination to be processed and sterilized.”

East received her career training through Durham Tech’s Surgical Technology program. The program is challenging, but challenges don’t faze East. “The instructors encourage you and are dedicated to the success of every student,” she said. “They prepare you to be ready for the surgical environment.” Her instructors even helped her in her job search.

Through Durham Tech’s Surgical Technology program, students acquire the skills to prepare supplies, equipment, and instruments; maintain aseptic conditions; prepare patients for surgery; and assist surgeons during operations. Graduates find employment with inpatient and outpatient surgery centers, physicians’ offices, and central supply processing units. Work sites for graduates include labor and delivery or the operating room.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Graduates take the national certification exam for surgical technologists that is administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.

For more information, contact mitchinerc@durhamtech.edu or call 919-536-7233, ext. 8125, or visit the Surgical Technology web page.

Houa YangDental Laboratory Technology Students Learn Skills That Are In Demand
Students in Durham Tech's Dental Laboratory Technology curriculum learn how to make complete and partial dentures and crowns and bridges in both metal and porcelain. They also create orthodontic appliances. The students practice their skills through an internship in a dental laboratory. When Houa Yang completed his studies in the Dental Laboratory Technology program six years ago, he had an internship waiting at Murray Dental Laboratory. One of the first things his employer, Raymond Murray, asked him to do was construct a dental model. “I did a porcelain crown, and he really liked it,” Yang recalled. Yang settled into his internship and soon was creating dental appliances. About two weeks later, Murray stopped by his work area. “He told me I was coming to work for him after the internship, and I should stop looking for a job anywhere else,” recalled Yang, who was flattered and accepted the job offer. Murray knew talent when he saw it. Now Yang hopes to one day open his own dental laboratory.

Yang first heard about Durham Tech's Dental Laboratory Technology program from a friend who had completed the program. Though the work is intricate, Yang said artistic talent is not required. Practice, however, is definitely required. “When you practice a lot, you catch on fast,” he said.

Dental Laboratory Technology students learn to make dental appliances by first watching the instructor. “After you watch him and make sure you understand everything, then you go back and copy what the instructor did,” explained Yang. Students create the appliances in wax and metal before beginning their ceramic work.

“The equipment can be a challenge,” Yang said, and students often need help. Because of the small class size, instructors are able to give plenty of individual attention. Most students think ceramic crowns and bridges are the hardest, but Yang said they are his favorite tasks. “You do have to be very careful and pay attention to ever y small detail,” he said.

Students in the program participate in an internship with a local dental laboratory during their fifth semester. During the internship, they are able to put their new skills to practice under the supervision of a professional.

Graduates of the five-semester day program receive an Associate in Applied Science degree. Students can also earn certificates in Cast Partial Denture Techniques, Complete Denture Techniques, Crown and Bridge Techniques, and Dental Ceramic Techniques.

Durham Tech's Dental Laboratory Technology program is certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation and by the US Department of Education.

For more information, contact patrickm@durhamtech.edu or call 919-536-7200, ext. 8128, or visit the Dental Laboratory Technology web page.

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