ANDERSON — Licensed homebuilder Steve Sutton spent the better part of 2012 looking for a job.
The housing market crash of 2007 initially didn’t affect the successful owner of Action Construction Company Inc. but two years later he was forced to close his business.
He worked for two years for an ATM manufacturing company out of Texas, installing and servicing ATM machines all over the East Coast.
He was on the road constantly, away from his family in Anderson, so he began applying for local jobs – any job. Sending out 30 to 40 resumes brought no responses.
“I never got called for an interview. The one thing missing from my resume was education,” said Sutton.
At 45 he became a first-time college student at Tri-County Technical College. Leaving a lifelong career for the classroom was challenging but he applied the same tenacity to college as he did as a homebuilder. He began setting goals. His first was to be the best student he could be.
His decisive determination earned him a 4.0 grade point average, as well as a job before he graduates with a degree in Mechatronics May 8. Unlike two years ago, this time with degree in hand, he received multiple job offers prior to graduation.
He accepted the position as the first robotics service technician hired by Epoch Robotics, a division of JR Automation in Pickens. He starts his new career debt free.
“Lottery tuition assistance and an Abney scholarship from Tri-County’s Foundation paid for my education. How many can say I earned a college degree for free?” he asked.
He began his first shift job May 12 and will travel to Michigan for training at the company’s main facility.
“It’s been a journey,” he said reflecting on the past two years. “It’s gone by fast and I have studied a lot, especially with my online classes. My goal was to earn A’s, not just get by.”
“Steve is an outstanding student whose passion for learning is refreshing,” said Wayne Miles, adjunct Mechatronics instructor. “He studies the material for his classes and truly tries to understand the concepts covered in lecture. He is not afraid to ask questions and takes the initiative to go beyond the curriculum material so he can better understand the topics covered in class.”
“Steve was an excellent student and proof that anyone with the desire and drive can get through the Mechatronics program and learn the skills to get an excellent job,” said Danny Stovall, Mechatronics program coordinator. “There is a huge need for qualified multi-skilled technicians, not only in our area, but all across the country. The Mechatronics program has grown to be the largest in the Engineering and Industrial Technology Division and all of our grads are getting very good jobs.”
His next goal is to be “the best robotics technician I can be. I’m going to hit the ground running May 12.”