Some people go
to college to build career skills. Others go to build wall-climbing robot cars.
College grad Christian Garcia did both.
Thanks to IVC’s
high-tech Drafting Technology and Engineering program, wall-climbing robot
cars are a snap. Just draw a 3D model of the framework with cutting-edge
engineering software. Then, go to the lab, input your data, and either
laser-cut or 3D-print your creation… Boom! You've got a road-rocking,
handmade car-tank hybrid.
It’s that kind of applied learning that attracted Garcia to
IVC and helped propel him into his dream field.
immersive in this program,” says Garcia, who recently started a high-level and
full-time drafting job at Schweitzer Engineering. He’s thankful to
IVC for preparing him not just to transfer to Cal State Fullerton, where he is
a part-time student, but also giving him the outstanding support to follow his
ideal career path.
“A lot of the projects that I did in the program at
Irvine Valley helped me develop a lot of soft and hard skills,” he recalls.
From communication and teamwork to AutoCAD and building information modeling
software, Garcia was more than prepared for his first job interview out of
community college. “It made me a
validated candidate for this position, and the company thought I was a great
works as an electrical designer and drafter, using 2D software to make wiring
diagrams, AC and DC schematics, and panel drawings. He works closely with
utility companies to protect equipment and systems. Their goal: “Making power more economical, reliable, and safe.”
“Let’s say there’s a fault in the line,” says Garcia, referencing one of
the everyday problems he helps to solve. “It might be
dangerous to the equipment, or it could start a fire.”
getting information back to a CPU or circuit breaker and stopping the fault in
its tracks. “A device like a relay would give
instructions to a circuit breaker to cut the wire and isolate the fault, so it
doesn’t harm the operator or the equipment,
or start a fire.”
nothing could be more crucial, and Garcia is proud to put his exceptional math
and physics skills to good use. The IVC grad attributes his career success, in
part, to one of his most inspiring professors, Matthew Wolken.
“Given Christian’s dedication to
his work, I have no doubt he will succeed in his new position,” says Wolken,
Department Chair of Integrated Design, Automation and Engineering (IDEA) at
Wolken, and all
of the faculty at the IDEA school, are dedicated to developing business
contacts and outreach for students. Wolken routinely shares job openings with
his classes and encourages them to be active on his LinkedIn internship
and employment groups.
Wolken advocates for his students to apply for jobs, to apply for drafting
positions or other technical positions,” says Garcia, who says Wolken pointed him
in the right direction, and even served as one of his references, when he began
seeking industry employment.
“Christian is a great young man,” says Wolken. “I can’t say enough about his excellent character,
intelligence, and engaging personality.”
the professor, Garcia is an ideal student who has worked hard “across multiple
fields to maximize his potential.” Garcia also went over and above, helping
Wolken with several important projects, including preparing students for
certification exams. So when Garcia asked for help launching his new career,
Wolken was thrilled to assist.
“I am extremely proud of his work both at IVC and at
Schweitzer,” says Wolken. “He has spent more than one and a half years
completing nearly all of our drafting and engineering classes at IVC, which is
no small task.”
Wolken’s support and
job reference made all the difference for Garcia.
“He is willing to vouch for your skill sets if he thinks
you are ready to get into the workforce,” he says. According to Garcia, Wolken
exemplifies IVC’s close-knit community, where professors are “willing to take that extra step to see you succeed.”
found most inspirational about his professors was that they are also experts in
the field. Engineering is a very demanding technical job, and access to highly
knowledgeable instructors like Wolken can be a game-changer.
“They are not just teachers; they have been employed by
engineering or technical companies,” says Garcia, who gained a cutting-edge
advantage in the industry by learning from his professors’
experience. “The advice they give is priceless
because they have personally practiced for many years what they are teaching.”
nature of the Drafting Technology & Engineering program is what initially
appealed to Garcia, and what ultimately catapulted him toward his educational
goals. As he learned new things, he found he was able to apply the knowledge
immediately into classroom projects.
One of those
projects entailed flying a drone and using photogrammetry to create a
topographical map, then inputing that data into AutoCAD.
“In the program, you can make roads, bridges, watersheds,
pipe networking, and sewers,” says Garcia, who has also used the software to
grade landscape, determine slopes, and track residential property lines. “You can draft it and show construction work or
demolition plans, all that stuff. It’s hands-on.”
real-world projects not only stoked Garcia’s passion for the industry, they
helped boost his credentials as he entered the competitive Orange County job
“By gaining familiarity with manufacturing and
measuring equipment, the theoretical knowledge gained in our classes
becomes more valuable to our students,” says Wolken.
allowed Garcia to explore many different interactive projects on a variety of
tools, including CNC machines, laser cutters, and 3D printers. That kind of
access to facilities is unusual in a two-year college program, and when he
graduated high school, he put his acceptance to Cal State Fullerton on hold in
favor of the dynamic and affordable opportunities available at IVC.
”At IVC, they
offer classes that would be equivalent to sophomore- and junior-level at a
four-year institute, at a price that is way cheaper,” says Garcia.
Not only did
Garcia take advantage of the engineering basics like calculus, he also built
critical skills in C++, programming languages and other software tools
essential to a professional drafter or designer. It was these “higher-end” engineering courses that attracted Garcia,
and he’s thankful that he chose the Irvine
Valley College route.
IVC, you start now!” says Garcia, who was happy to skip the prerequisites
typical to an analogous four-year program"
IVC, he got practical experience right away, affording him confidence and
clearer insight into the field. He also saved money, earning certifications in
SolidWorks and AutoCAD without paying a thing!
sponsored by the school, so it’s free,” says
Garcia. “When you become certified through these
exams, it shows employers that you can adequately operate these programs and
that hands-on education is key to successful employment in the Drafting Tech
“His interviewers at Schweitzer were impressed with his
skills in schematics as well as mechanical drafting,” says Wolken. “I find that most employers are impressed when students
show a working knowledge of multiple software programs.”
that the training he received at IVC launched him into career opportunities he
might not have found otherwise, and he’s thankful that
Wolken encouraged on his path.
“If I had gone
to a four-year without that IVC program…” says Garcia, “…I wouldn’t have known
a CNC machine, I would have never touched a 3D printer… I would have never
developed various 3D and 2D modeling tools.
“The program is
trying to kickstart your career.”
Find out more about IVC's Drafting, Technology, and Engineering Program.