Before enrolling at COTC, Braden Patchett already had a long work history in the restaurant business. But for the St. Louisville resident, all those years amounted to only one thing—employment that was just a “J.O.B.” leaving him “Just Over Broke.” At least, that’s how Patchett unashamedly describes his less-than-ideal experiences in the unskilled workforce. Feeling trapped in lower-paying service jobs with no path toward advancement, Patchett was getting by, but not thriving, he admits. Moreover, he was haunted. Employed but not moving forward, he wanted a life, and a career, that he could love.
So, in the spring of 2015, the then 37-year-old decided to act. What Patchett gained, however, was more than he ever dreamed. In two short years, the former restaurant worker not only found a career, he found that earning an associate degree would change his life forever. Now a junior designer at Varo Engineers in Granville, a Salas O’Brien Company, Patchett has a promising engineering career at a full-service engineering and design firm offering good benefits, paid vacation and a corporate culture that actively helps employees succeed.
“My education from COTC has allowed me to reach a better quality of life,” said Patchett with emotion, revealing the deep resonance of his feelings. “I love the work. I am making a difference in the local economy by helping local manufacturing. Also, I don’t panic about household bills anymore; that used to be a thing,” he confessed. “My career looks bright.”
Before enrolling at COTC, Patchett was impressed with the college’s high-quality academics and powerful salary potential for associate degree graduates. Four of COTC’s engineering technology programs are internationally accredited by ABET, a highly prestigious and rare accolade among technical colleges. Further, the median annual wage for mechanical engineering technology graduates is impressively more than $48,000 annually.1
While at COTC, Patchett first met with Varo representatives while preparing for an upcoming campus career fair. From that day forward, Patchett’s career trajectory quickly took flight. Just one month later, in mid-May 2017, he began a very successful internship at Varo working on 2D and 3D drafting and design. Just three months later, upon graduating with an Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Varo hired Patchett full time as a CAD operator. In February 2018, Varo entrusted Patchett to take on more in-depth responsibilities and moved him to a client field site where he is gaining valuable hands-on experience and elevating his skills even further. By taking advantage of Varo’s mentoring program, Patchett noted that he took the skills learned at COTC and applied them to the real world, leading directly to his current career path.
“COTC has proved to be an excellent local resource to provide students with a well-rounded technical degree that complements what we are looking for in a designer,” noted Cari Mead, Varo talent manager. “The candidates from COTC have a strong foundation in CAD that helps speed up the learning to our process. The students are also skilled in 3D modeling in Autodesk Inventor, a software package our mechanical department utilizes. The coursework in thermodynamics, statics and strengths of materials, and mechanical systems also directly complement the education and skillset required to succeed at Varo,” she added.
So, what is Patchett’s advice to anyone considering changing their own life through COTC? ”Find something you love. Find something you enjoy doing. Find something you have a talent in,” Patchett counseled. “Then talk to the Gateway at COTC, and find the program that suits you! Apply for every scholarship available. You will be surprised at what you receive, and what you achieve. I am.” Barely one year after his own graduation, Patchett returned to COTC to provide the commencement address to the summer 2018 semester graduates.
1The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Labor Market Information