Nash Community College Demonstrates the Future of Manufacturing and Education for President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden
Contributed by Autodesk
Presidential Visit to NCC
It’s not every day that the President and First Lady of the United States visit your classroom or workshop.
But a few weeks ago, Jason Brannan, a CAM instructor at Nash Community College (NCC) in North Carolina, received the surprise of a lifetime. He was asked to escort President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to see NCC’s advanced manufacturing division.
“It was all very secretive beforehand due to the security of having a presidential visit,” Brannan says. “I’ve never known anyone who even met a president. Now, I can say I spoke with one. You don’t really know what to expect, but it was very natural. We had a great conversation and even cracked some jokes.”
Brannan took the Bidens on a full tour of NCC’s Gene Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing to share the future of manufacturing and how the college prepares students for careers in the manufacturing sector. They delivered remarks to the media in the shop where Brannan teaches students machining and how to use Fusion 360. The group also visited the PLC lab and the robotics lab where a couple of students showed off their robotic programming projects.
“When the students showed them the robotic arm, he told them they were doing a good job and to keep up the great work,” Brannan says. “It was neat for the students to be told that not just by us, but by the president.”
“As a former educator who collaborated with Autodesk and welcomed numerous officials to our community college, I understand the profound impact these visits had on students from diverse backgrounds. These experiences instilled a deep sense of empowerment to further fuel their determination to pursue their educational journey and thrive in the industry. It’s not just securing a job, but about embarking on a fulfilling career and enabling students to envision a future brimming with possibilities and success.”
— Jason Roth, Account Manager, Engineering Education, Autodesk
The Future of Manufacturing
During the Bidens’ visit, NCC was able to showcase the breadth and depth of its advanced manufacturing program. Each student learns about other manufacturing techniques—even if it’s outside of their own focus. Everyone can learn the basics of CAM or PLC, tinker with robotics, or explore 3D printing.
“Our students get a good taste of everything,” Brannan says. “We always need to adjust to job demands and prepare students the best we can. We do that by incorporating other technologies. It’s not like other programs where if you’re a machining student, you only take machining classes.”
Brannan has his own special relationship with NCC. As a graduate of the school, he joined as an instructor a couple of years ago after a successful manufacturing career. Teaching was something he always had an interest in pursuing. Now, he says he can’t imagine doing anything else.
Introduction to Autodesk Fusion 360
He also found himself on his own learning path with the switch to using Fusion 360 for his CAM classes. After discovering more about Fusion 360 at the HAAS HTEC National Conference last year, he was impressed with the power of the software’s capabilities and how ideal it would be for his students.
“The education license is free, which is huge for schools and our budgets,” Brannan says. “But one of the most important things is the easy access for students to use Fusion 360 at home. Before, they could only access the software at school. Now, I can teach the entire class and not lose time for them to practice during class.”
Brannan has seen students really drawn to Fusion 360 and its ease of use. In fact, many are taking the time to experiment with their own projects outside of assignments.
“I have students taking the initiative and saying, “Hey, look at what I designed in Fusion 360,’” he says. “It’s not anything related to what we’ve been doing in school, but it’s something they wanted to design or to try and 3D print. They really are learning and doing things for fun, not just for assignments or to get a grade.”