Johnston Community College recognized its national award-winning machining student and showcased the William R. Britt Advanced Technology Center during a luncheon Nov. 2.
The event was the first in a Lunch and Learn series that, over the coming months, will educate business and industry leaders about the college’s programs and services.
One highlight of the program was the recognition of machining student Giovanni Aguilar for winning the gold medal in the CNC technician competition at the SkillsUSA national conference last July.
The award was a first for JCC, and it was a huge compliment for Aguilar, who will earn his associate’s degree in December, and for JCC’s computer-integrated machining program and instructors.
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“We’re very proud of Giovanni; we’re very proud of this program,” said Brian Worley, program director. “A little over five years ago, this program didn’t exist. Thanks to the vision and support of Dr. (David) Johnson and the JCC trustees, we have turned this program around. We now have 42 students, and five years ago we had zero.”
Aguilar, 23, of Clayton, works third shift at OPW, where he machines products for gas stations. When his workday ends, he drives to JCC to start his studies for the day.
“I wanted a degree to back me up. I work really hard to be here, so it means something to me,” Aguilar said of his award. “I’m more proud that Dr. Johnson and JCC invested in this machining program, and I’m just glad that I can be the person to show that it pays off and help put JCC on the map.”
During the event, Steve Price, a sales engineer with Jeffreys Manufacturing Solutions, presented the college a $15,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation to support student scholarships and advanced technology programs at JCC. Aguilar received a $1,500 scholarship from those funds.
Attendees toured the college’s welding, machining and industrial systems technology program areas and observed the upgraded lab spaces for students.
The William R. Britt Advanced Technology Center provides expertise and the latest technologies to increase regional economic growth. The center focuses on job creation, fostering economic development and encouraging more students to enter STEM careers.
The center is a member of the National Coalition of Technology Centers and is one of only five centers in North Carolina.
The center is named for the late William R. “Billy” Britt, a Smithfield attorney and longtime member of the college’s board of trustees. The 28,000-square-foot Britt Building opened in the fall of 2004.
The JCC Foundation’s next Learn and Learn event will be held in January and will spotlight college-transfer programs and the STEAM Center.