Making his mark: Million thriving at global engineering firm
It didn't take Marcus Million long to begin working at one of the top engineering firms in the country.
Just a few months after he finished classes at Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology, he was helping to design power plants at Black & Veatch.
"I had some drafting experience in high school and really enjoyed that, but it had not occurred to me that it was a feasible career until I started looking into MCC," Million said. "I jumped right in at Black & Veatch and am really excited to have the opportunity."
A native of Kansas City, Million began taking courses at MCC-Business & Technology during the fall 2013 semester. By the time he graduated in 2015, Million had associate of applied science degrees in mechanical/manufacturing engineering technology and computer-aided drafting and design (CADD).
He had a job secured before finishing up his degrees and began his career at a small local architectural company in July 2015.
"It was nice having a job lined up before graduating, and this college helped me get that job," Million said. "I heard about my first job through an adjunct instructor at MCC."
Million's connections on campus continued to pay off a few months later when a former classmate at MCC-Business & Technology told him Black & Veatch was hiring. He applied and began working in the power division at one of the largest engineering firms in the country in November.
During his first seven months at Black & Veatch, Million has helped to design buildings and the architectural infrastructure for power stations in California and New Jersey.
"I'm planning to continue working at Black & Veatch and hoping to work my way up," he said. "What I've really enjoyed is that I get to model projects most of the day. I felt very well-prepared going to school at MCC because I got to learn so many different computer programs.
"There are so many learning opportunities. Whatever you want to learn about, there is some way to learn it in your class or a connection at the college to help you explore it."
Million credits the instructors at MCC-Business & Technology for enhancing his experience, including program coordinator Mike Cline.
"Mike is 110 percent for his students," he said. "I also had a chance to teach under him as an adjunct instructor. He is completely behind you as a student and instructor. The (Engineering Technology program) here is great."
Million's success early in his career has not surprised Cline.
"Marcus is the definition of a perfect student. He always came to class prepared, was willing to help other students and participated in class discussions," he said. "He is respected by all members of the Engineering Technology department. I was very happy for him when he landed the position at Black & Veatch. He is a deserving student who is a great fit for them."
Stand out student gets multiple job offers after MCC degree
As commencement approached, Matthew Hernandez, 21, got news he was named 2016 Engineering Technology Student of the Year.
At about the same time, Hernandez received more confirmation that he was ready for a career when two companies offered him a job before he even graduated. He ultimately decided to work at Preston Refrigeration in Kansas City, Kansas, where he is a CADD (Computer-Aided Drafting and Design) technician.
"I had two offers, and I looked closely at both," Hernandez said. "The manager was big on developing newcomers, and that was really important to me. I really enjoy learning because it helps you get better. The fact that they were willing to teach me more helped me make the decision."
Hernandez, who has a certificate and associate of applied science in CADD, has been at Preston for more than a year now, performing such duties as drawing plans and schematics.
The success early in his career does not surprise program coordinator Mike Cline, who taught Hernandez in many of his courses.
"Matt was a hard-working, dedicated student, and we knew he'd be a great employee," Cline said. "He was consistently at the top of his class, and his performance at Preston is a great example of the type of workers we train in the Engineering Technology program."
Hernandez grew up near MCC-Blue River in Independence and was familiar with the school when he decided to attend community college on the A+ program, which covers the tuition of Missouri high school students who are eligible.
To be eligible, you must enroll full-time (12 credit-hours or more per semester) within 48 months of graduation, have a 2.5 GPA, 95 percent attendance rate and 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring, as well as a record of good citizenship.
"I didn't even know you could do what I'm doing for a career when I was in high school," Hernandez said. "When I found out, I knew what I wanted to do, and I discovered that MCC had a CADD program. My parents also were very strong supporters. My dad is knowledgeable about the field and would help when I needed it."
Hernandez said his favorite place on the Business & Technology campus was the Fab Lab, where he could use dozens of tools to work on projects for free as a student.
"Matthew's story is a wonderful example of how MCC is preparing highly skilled and qualified students for the workforce," said Dr. Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology. "Preparing students and serving the community is at the core of our mission, and Matthew is proof that we're meeting that mission."