Not Just About the Degree

Architectural engineering technology student Juliette Pierce is challenging herself in more ways than one at COTC.

Young female smiling at camera, COTC student Juliette Pierce

As a creative introvert, Juliette Pierce never imagined herself as an engineer. But as a College Credit Plus (CCP) student in Central Ohio Technical College’s (COTC) architectural engineering technology program, she has overcome several challenges to redefine the possibilities for her future. 

Pierce assumed that she was destined for a liberal arts college majoring in art or English or music because she thought she wasn’t cut out for fields like engineering because of the emphasis on math, a subject she hadn’t exactly taken to. After shadowing professionals in various roles at the New Albany engineering firm EASi Engineering, Pierce decided to defy her ideas of her capabilities and follow her new-found interest in the field. For her senior year at Watkins Memorial High School, she enrolled in COTC’s architectural engineering technology program through the CCP program.

As the end of that year draws near, Pierce has realized that architectural engineering is truly the right career for her. “I really like the creative aspect of architectural engineering, being able to problem-solve and the logical aspect of it. It combines two things that I love: creativity and logic.”

She has had challenging classes that have required her to seek out extra time with her COTC instructors such as Whit Tussing, professor of architectural engineering technology, who Pierce said provided the individual attention she needed to understand complex concepts that she anticipated might be obstacles. Not only have classes tested her, but being in an unfamiliar, freer environment required her to learn to manage her time and work collaboratively in a fast-paced setting. Both have been trials for the naturally introverted high school senior.

“Putting myself in something and somewhere I’m not used to and working through that has been a challenge. So, while getting a degree is one reason why I am doing this, it is also about challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person,” said Pierce.

Her favorite class so far has been a construction materials class that teaches students why certain materials are used for making specific types or parts of buildings. Pierce described how the class taught her, starting with the foundation and working on each level up to the roof, how to calculate which materials will make for a structurally sound building. “At first I felt like I was really underqualified to be in the class, but I worked hard and asked for extra help when I needed it. I really learned a lot that I believe I’ll be able to use in my career.”

She also really enjoyed the recent opportunity to plan a home. Pierce and the other students in Architecture 1 were asked to make modifications to a model of a home using a set of specifications. This really gave her the opportunity to do the things that make architectural engineering the field for her: problem-solving and using creativity and logic to provide a final product that she can call her own.

“At COTC it doesn’t feel like I’m just here for a degree, I’m here to get skills that I can use in life and in my career. The program requires a lot of hands-on learning both in the classrooms and in a co-operative or internship experience that will truly prepare me to work in the architectural engineering field,” said Pierce. “The faculty has really helped me overcome challenges to achieve both academic and personal growth I didn’t think was possible.”

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC has four campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.