When Carl Edwards of Galax chose to attend New River Community College, he came for the same reasons as many local students: it was affordable and close to home. But beyond these more conventional reasons, there was something else that kept him at the NRCC.
“I had heard a lot of good things about the instrumentation program while taking electrical classes at NRC after work in 2013,” Edwards said.
The NRC Instrumentation Program provides hands-on training and education in the skills and theory required to master the responsibilities of an Instrumentation and Controls Technician. The program also provides the foundation for on-the-job training and other career challenges in the field of instrumentation and control automation.
Edwards signed up for the program. During his time at the NRC, he made friends with whom he would stay in touch for many years to come. He also keeps in touch with his teacher, Montie Fleshman.
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“Montie was a great teacher,” Edwards said.
After graduating from NRCC in 2016 with an associate’s degree in instrumentation and control automation technology and electrical engineering, Edwards took a job with OCI Iowa Fertilizer Company, a position he found on line. There he was able to obtain a few additional certifications which made him even more employable in his field.
Being willing and able to relocate for a job on short notice is also valuable to potential employers, Edwards explained.
“One of the unique characteristics of the instrumentation field is that students can take on lucrative positions not just locally, but across the country if they’re willing to travel,” Edwards said.
And for Edwards, his work has even taken him outside the United States.
“I traveled before college to do electrical work, so I always did. The instrumentation allowed me to work overseas and overseas,” Edwards said. “The NRCC degree and skills have allowed me to see the world.”
Edwards has worked on projects ranging from Iowa to Minnesota to Pennsylvania in the United States. Over the border, he spent nearly two years in the Caribbean working at the Limetree Bay refinery in St. Croix and six months testing safety systems on the Leviathan offshore gas production platform which introduces up to 2.1 billion cubic feet per day into the Mediterranean Sea.
While working at St. Croix, Edwards explained how he was able to quit his job and go scuba diving or swimming at any time.
More recently, his work has taken him to Ontario, Canada. He is currently working as a field engineer on a refinery restart project in Newfoundland, Canada.
He notes that the field of instrumentation is a safe career path.
“There are places that always contact me for long-term and short-term jobs, so I feel like I have job stability,” Edwards said.
Its industry is also lucrative, especially for those willing to travel and work overtime.
“If you’re not afraid of overtime, you can make anywhere from $160,000 to $250,000,” Edwards explained.
But his work isn’t just about income or travel. Beyond day-to-day work, the most interesting thing about her job is working with so many different people.
“I’ve worked with people from all over – India, Israel, Germany, Italy, Trinidad, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and England,” Edwards said.
Edwards believes his training at the NRCC fully prepared him for his career, both at home and abroad.
“The NRCC instrument calibration equipment is exactly what I’ve used and seen on some multi-billion dollar projects,” Edwards said. “The NRC Instrumentation Diploma has been one of the best investments in myself, and I urge everyone to consider it as a career path.”
For more information on the Instrumentation and Control Automation Technology program at NRC, visit www.nr.edu/instrumentation/.
– Submitted by Jill Watson Ross