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Wrong Turn Becomes Life-Changing Moment for Machining Graduate

Jan 14

Jan. 14, 2019 – Getting lost at Richmond Community College and ending up in the machine shop was the best wrong turn Matt Bower could have made career-wise.Matt Bower standing in front of a sign for Goodyear Tire & Rubber The 2005 graduate of the Computer Integrated Machining program is now working full-time at Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Fayetteville and also runs his own business, Bower Precision Alignments, on the side.

Bower, a Richmond County native, started at RichmondCC intending to enroll in the Electronics Technology program and become an electrician. However, on his way to class, he got lost and happened to walk through the machine shop where the instructor, Clayton Dial, was demonstrating how to operate a lathe.

“I thought, ‘Well that looks pretty cool,” Bower said. “I’ve always been pretty mechanically inclined, but I didn’t know anything about the equipment in the shop, and that’s what made me want to do it.”

Bower said he was also encouraged by Dial to consider taking the Machining program. 

“He said, ‘Give me a week. If you don’t like it, go be an electrician,’” Bower said.

He obviously liked it, because Bower graduated from the program two years later.

The Value of Trade Skills

Bower, of Cameron, started at Goodyear 12 years ago as a machinist/fabricator. He now does quality control inspections on different machines in the plant. As for his side business, he handles alignments for pumps and motors that circulate water through large industrial-sized cooling systems. Most of his contract work is with the military on bases such as Ft. Bragg and with military hospitals and clinics.

“It’s a really good niche. In fact there are only two other companies in North Carolina that do what I do,” Bower said about precision alignments.

Bower started his company less than a year ago and is already considering hiring someone to work for him due to the high demand for this type of work.

While Bower did not have any formal education on how to do these alignments, but rather learned the skill set on the job, he does credit the original training he got at RichmondCC for where he is today.

“Ultimately, the Machining program got me into this field of dealing with how things work and how to think with a precision mindset,” Bower said. “I owe a lot to Clayton Dial, too. He was a good instructor. When he asked me to serve on his Advisory Committee for the Machining program a couple of years ago, I couldn’t turn him down.”

Bower added to his education after leaving RichmondCC. He earned two associate degrees from Central Carolina Community College; however, he puts great value in the trade skills he has learned both on the job and in school. He said teaching the next generation the advantage of having a trade is important.

“If you learn a trade and you know how to do something with your hands that most people don’t know how to do,” Bower said, “then you’ll always be valuable.”

About Computer Integrated Machining

Students in the Computer Integrated Machining program at RichmondCC learn about manual machining, computer applications, engineering design, computer-aided drafting, computer-aided machining, blueprint interpretation, advanced computerized numeric control (CNC) equipment, basic and advanced machining operations, precision measurement and high-speed multi-axis machining. They learn how to take a production idea from an initial concept through design, development and production, resulting in a finished product.

To Sign Up

RichmondCC is now accepting new students into this program. Complete a free application online today!