Posted: May 30, 2017
David Russell can finally get a good night’s sleep again.
The father of two from Fernley didn’t sleep much while providing for his family and simultaneously studying Automated Systems in Western Nevada College’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
Russell graduated on Monday with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automated Systems. It capped a dream that began more than three years ago.
“Graduating was a huge accomplishment, not just for me, but also for my family who has supported me the whole way,” Russell said. “I’m showing my kids to get their degrees before starting a family, because if not, they can still get one, but it is a lot harder.”
The former Navy machinist decided to return to school after working in building maintenance for Renown and U.C. Davis medical centers.
“After talking to a couple of friends who work in manufacturing, I realized that was the area I wanted to specialize in and still use the 15 years of experience that I already had,” Russell said. “I started looking for a school that taught automation, I looked all over Northern Nevada and online courses also. WNC had the degree I was looking for.”
In order to return to school, Russell needed to work the graveyard shift at Renown.
“Staying on that shift was the only way I would be able to complete my degree in only a couple of years,” said Russell, who has an 11-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter. “I was able to be flexible with morning and evening classes, since I still needed to work full time to provide for my family. I would study for a couple of hours after I dropped the kids off at school, at the dance studio or at the ball fields. The hardest part was that I only slept about 4 hours on the days I worked.”
Russell’s full schedule hasn’t slowed down his academic excellence. He was an Associated Students of Western Nevada’s 2016-17 Career and Technical Education award recipient. He also earned the Manufacturing Technician (MT1) credential and a Siemens Mechatronic Systems Association certification, an internationally recognized credential in automation and industrial systems. Russell also was part of WNC’s first Mechatronics cohort.
“The program is well-designed and it provided me with a lot of industry training, as well as hands-on experience,” Russell said. “The program is set up to encourage critical thinking, which is the most important part of troubleshooting equipment.”
Russell has already found a great job as a result of his training.
“My degree and the Siemens certification already gave me a huge boost in my career. A few weeks ago, I accepted a position at a brand-new FedEx facility,” said Russell, who is a Maintenance Technician II responsible for performing preventive maintenance and troubleshooting of electrical, pneumatic, mechanical and all of the automated systems.
“David worked in a variety of team settings comfortably and he inspired his fellow students to share ideas and collaborate using his calm demeanor — these are things that will propel him forward in his career,” said Emily Howarth, professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology at WNC.
Summer classes begin June 12. Students interested in Advanced Manufacturing may contact Howarth at Emily.Howarth@wnc.edu.