Pickens Technical College All-Star Graduate: David Barber

Here at the Pickens Technical College Blog we like to occasionally highlight a recent PTC graduate who exemplifies the mission of PTC and show to other PTC students that they can find a career in their field of study that they are passionate about. As you know from reading this blog, getting students fully prepared to work hard on their passion is what PTC is all about. Today, we’re focusing on David Barber, an electronics technician working his way up at a local company using the lessons he learned in PTC’s General Electronic Technology program, taught by John Holmes.

David Barber learned the fundamentals of AC and DC power, as well as how to work with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) in his General Electronics class. Barber says John Holmes helped him “understand how sequencing works in a circuit,” which has helped Barber understand how to monitor the workflow in a machine. Holmes of course includes many hours of technical study and teaching in his curriculum, as any General Electronic Technology teacher should, but according to Barber, Holmes’ contributions to his students’ lives goes far beyond the syllabus:

“This man is by far the best professor I’ve had in my school career. This man’s integrity is critical—he told it like it is. Having experience in the industry he teaches made the information so much more valuable because he was always able to help illustrate what the lessons could possibly be used in.”

Barber says that Holmes’ experience helped him directly relate very particular lessons to actions and skills he and his fellow students would have to do lean and perform in their everyday jobs when they graduated from PTC.

John Holmes has taught classes in digital electronics, analog electronics, and mobile app programming for seven years. He has also worked in the electronics industry for 22 years, so his experience is considerable. Holmes is a walking resource for students who want to get ahead in the industry. More important for David Barber than the experience and teaching skill was Holmes’ compassion for his students. Anyone can learn electronics well enough to teach it, especially if they have been working in the industry for over 20 years. But Holmes routinely went above and beyond for his students to challenge them to do their best and ensure that students reached their potential:

“More than any of this though is the compassion this man has for his students… This compassion is what drives this man to encourage each and every student to rise beyond the status quo. From day one this man encouraged us to strive to be the best at everything we do. He encouraged us to be “the 1% of people in the world who don’t live a mundane life.” His passion for life helped us all to think critically about what we were really doing with our lives.”

Sometimes just knowing your teacher has high expectations for you makes you want to be a better student, and that’s just the energy that David Barber got from John Holmes. Barber has nothing but praise for his former teacher, who also taught his students how to find the “inside track” to landing a job, as well as the basic skills that everyone needs to know to hold down a job anywhere. Holmes is the kind of teacher who will go to bat for his students and help them succeed in anything they do, even if it’s not general electronics. Barber says that Holmes taught him and his fellow classmates “how to learn,” which is the most important lesson of all. We have all learned how to regurgitate answers on tests, but until we learn how to learn, we’re only memorizing words in a book. Holmes shows his students that, in the words of Barber: “challenges are required for growth, in all aspects of life…” Holmes asked his students at times how to eat an elephant. The correct response was always: “one bite at a time.”

Glass and Fenestration Construction Company JR Butler Seeks out PTC Grads

JR Butler is a glass and fenestration construction company based in Englewood that has hired several Pickens Technical College graduates in the past, and its leaders continue to look for recent PTC graduates that fit in with the company’s culture. JR Butler strives to consistently improve their services by working closely with clients on achieving architects’ design intents, helping property owners maximize the value of their property, and allowing contractors to build quality structures faster and more efficiently. These are great services, but you’re not a property developer, so what does JR Butler look for in potential employees?

JR Butler is always looking for the best engineers, designers, and planners to perform needed work in their technologically advanced manufacturing facility. Its employees also install high-quality products on time consistently. JR Butler Director of Field Operations Felix Mestas says that he meets many prospective employees at job fairs and other events at PTC and is always on the hunt for specific skill sets depending on what the company needs. But aside from looking for welders for welding projects and machinists for machining jobs, Mestas is interested in work ethic and a commitment to personal growth.

Felix Mestas loves interacting with PTC students at job fairs because he enjoys learning about what they are passionate about, what their dreams are, and how they plan to achieve them. JR Butler has two leadership programs designed to develop the company’s next generation of executives and visionaries that will continue the company’s mission. Mestas is a graduate himself of the Elite program at JR Butler, which schools a select group of promising employees in professional attitude, personal finance skills, and proper decorum. Veritas, JR Butler’s crash course in leadership program, develops leaders with an 18-month experiential course.

Let’s get back to what Felix Mestas and his fellow leaders at JR Butler look for in new employees (the information you’re looking for). Besides specific skills, Mestas says that “something that we try to root out is work ethic. We see this show up through hobbies or clubs or projects that students pursue in their free time.” He says that many prospective employees don’t always mention their hobbies or other activities they are passionate about because they feel they don’t apply to the job. Mestas often has to ask people at job fairs about their passions (other than working for JR Butler, of course). Above all, he looks for people who are committed to themselves and their future. “Commitment to self-improvement is easy to talk about, but much harder to actually do. Those that are committed to hard work and personal growth can have a very bright future with us,” he told me.

So, if you’re a PTC student, a prospective student, or a recent graduate, you may be able to start a career with an expanding company committed to helping its employees grow and develop with it. One shining example of a successful PTC graduate at JR Butler, according to Mestas, is Joy Davidson, now an “instrumental member of our design department,” says Mestas. Mestas says that Davidson is in the Elite Program at JR Butler and that she worked her way from the machining department to the design department with the work ethic that he looks for. If you want to be like Davidson and get an excellent career with a successful company like JR Butler, check out PTC’s excellent offerings of occupational education programs.

Pickens Technical College Adding a Culinary Program

If you’ve read this blog at all on Pickens Technical College’s website (which is where you are now, probably) you know that PTC offers top-notch occupational training and education for students who want to get into their dream career. Students interested in media and communication, human services, the healthcare system, transportation, engineering and more can get the education they need through hands-on training and classroom instruction to prepare them for work in their chosen field.

One common complaint that many students at PTC have voiced is that there is no culinary program. More students than ever are getting interested in becoming a professional chef or cook thanks to the rise of culinary shows and their parents keeping HGTV on their television sets constantly at home. Personally, I think the rise in attention on world-class chefs on their sometimes-hokey television shows is a good thing. By highlighting the skills and the lives of people like Anthony Bourdain, more young people around the United States are discovering their own talent in the kitchen and are beginning to think of culinary as a viable, even fun career. (It’s too late for me to discover any talent whatsoever in the kitchen).

The desire in many more young people than ever to get into professional culinary has led to a demand for more occupational training and education in cooking. And of course, PTC is here to satisfy this demand with a new culinary program. This new program will feature instruction by a highly experienced and skilled chef on the foundations of cooking and how to make it in the increasingly competitive world of professional chefs. Here are a few of these foundations you can expect to learn all about in this new professional culinary class at PTC:

  • Mise en place. Likely the first lesson you’ll learn in culinary class, this French phrase (there are many such phrases in culinary studies—the French like to cook) translates to “everything in place.” This is essentially the due diligence you’ll have to perform as a chef: organization of equipment, gathering of the right ingredients, preparing all ingredients, portioning, etc.
  • Mirepoix. This French phrase refers to the basic elements of most stocks, sauces, and flavorings… for everything. It’s a simple foundation for many dishes in French cuisine and used by chefs all over the world. Mirepoix (meer-pwa) consists of 25% carrot, 25% celery, and 50% onion. I may have just given away the first week of instruction. That’s why I’m not a professor at PTC.
  • Foundational flavors. The foundational flavors of culinary are like the Primary Colors of the culinary world. Similar to different colors complimenting each other, different foundational flavors typically go well with each other in different combinations. At PTC’s new culinary program, you’ll learn which flavors go with which and how to bring them out artistically in different dishes.

If you want to be a professional chef or cook, start with a professional culinary class taught at PTC. Look for new class offerings in the coming semesters on PTC’s website to learn more.