MES program produces homegrown engineers Down East
Ramsey Davis has gone from helping his family’s boat-building business as a teenager to performing structural analysis on Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jets, and he was able to stay in eastern North Carolina the entire time thanks to the College’s Mechanical Engineering Systems (MES) program.
The College established the MES distance degree program in partnership with Craven Community College in Havelock, NC 10 years ago to give students in the eastern part of the state a chance to earn an NC State engineering degree without having to leave family and work obligations to study in Raleigh.
Havelock is home to the U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command’s Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East), which provides support for aircraft operated by the Navy and Marine Corps and has a need to recruit engineers who want to live in the area. Because that is not always an easy task, two NC State engineering graduates working at FRC East asked the College to help produce home-grown engineers who are already in that part of the state and
“This was the only way that I would have been able to complete an engineering program,” said Davis, who graduated in May. “By the time I had started, I was married with a child on the way, so attending school full time in Raleigh was not an option.”
Faculty members from the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering in Raleigh teach using a live synchronous feed to special classrooms in Havelock. To allow flexibility for working students, the classes may be replayed in the evening with a facilitator in the room who can help answer questions.
MES students typically take five to six years to complete their degrees. Balancing work and family obligations with classes is a tall order.
“The students in the MES program are very busy due to the rigorous curriculum and working at their jobs,” said Dr. Linda Krute, director of the College’s Engineering Online program. “Many of the students work all day and then go to classes in the evening. Family time becomes limited along with any type of social life. The families of the students are just as involved in the program as the students. This is not an easy way to get a degree, but the students are extremely motivated and dedicated to what they are doing.”
Dr. Bill Fortney, director of the MES program, taught Kevin Tierney his first Introduction to Engineering class. Tierney is a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant with a family, a job at FRC East and one more year in the MES program.
“After this class I was hooked and was impatient to begin my next engineering classes,” Tierney said. “I was struck by not just the depth of practical knowledge, but the patient and friendly way that all of the NC State faculty and staff would interact with current and prospective students. I knew that this was a great place to learn and develop.”