Designing their future: Waubonsee students find success in drafting careers
Changes in technology and advances in automation can lead people to be concerned about the future of some jobs in career fields like engineering and computer aided design and drafting (CAD). However, Waubonsee Community College students Michael Chinn of Batavia and Matthew Maltese of Aurora have found rewarding jobs as drafters at EN Engineering in Warrenville.
"I was looking into getting a degree in the field that I was passionate about," said Maltese.
Chinn found that his interest in a field paired with the right education and training has rewards.
"I do feel like my education at Waubonsee has benefited my job here at EN Engineering. The CAD courses I took there absolutely apply to what I do in my position here," said Chinn.
"My time and education at Waubonsee helped me greatly at EN Engineering. I was able to jump right into CAD and was able to help out colleagues with things I learned at Waubonsee. It also helped me progress quickly at EN Engineering."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for drafters in 2018 was $55,500 while the median annual pay for all workers was just $38,640 with a projected growth rate in employment for drafters of 7 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Also, an associate degree is the typical entry-level education requirement with no experience required in a related occupation. With these statistics and the affordability of education at community colleges, there are many great opportunities for people in all manufacturing fields.
In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers has launched a campaign called "Creators Wanted" to inform people of these opportunities.
The partnership between Waubonsee and EN Engineering has been a critical part of student success. Waubonsee has placed more than 12 students at the firm in the last five years with most of the students starting entry-level drafting positions after they have finished their first year of classes, according to Randall Hines, assistant professor of Computer Aided Design and Drafting.
"EN (Engineering) has three divisions and we have students working in every area. EN Engineering has visited our classrooms to talk to our students about opportunities on a yearly basis," said Hines.
The combination of education and employment in this field has made a significant difference for Maltese and Chinn.
"Both EN Engineering and Waubonsee have played a great role in my life. Both places have shown me what I can accomplish on my own and continue to push me to grow and expand on my knowledge in the field," said Maltese.
"I think my time and experience at Waubonsee was worth it for sure. It has provided me with two different jobs in the engineering world with manufacturing and drafting," said Chinn.
The fact that a person can begin this career with an associate degree makes it even more valuable.
"I chose Waubonsee mostly because it was very economical for me. Plus, it was a 20-minute drive from my home. There was also more flexibility in the way I could work while attending as a full- or part-time student," said Chinn.
In addition to the affordability and flexibility of community colleges, the experience in the classrooms adds value.
"It didn't feel like a typical classroom experience. The majority of the people in the class had jobs, which helped everyone to have a connection to potential outside opportunities. This helped to solidify the fact that I chose a great career path," said Maltese.
Chinn and Maltese were recognized by the Waubonsee Board of Trustees at its July meeting. Waubonsee offers degrees and certificates in CAD, engineering, automation and manufacturing. Visit www.waubonsee.edu to learn more.