April 06, 2021

When alum Andy Chisholm was looking at colleges, he knew he wasn’t ready to commit to a four-year program.  He and his dad did research on what Century College’s Additive and Digital Manufacturing program had to offer, and Andy liked what he saw.  “Century College has reasonable tuition, access to knowledge, and machinery,” he notes.  “Century seemed like the right fit for me.”  

A Sustainable Career Choice

Andy is creative, and he was looking for a career field that is sustainable, and one that would engage him, help him grow professionally, and require his best skills.  He loves working with his hands, and he particularly enjoys working on cars.  Although he never thought of himself as a technical person, he has always been mechanical-minded. “My mind sees how to put things together.” Andy says. “When I got into Century’s technical classes, using drafting software, 3D printers and laser cutters, I loved it, and I became fascinated with the drafting, creating and fabrication stages.”

His fondest memories from his first semester at Century involved the “How to Make Almost Anything” class, in which ADM students began with the same objective–to create their own personalized sketch notebook.  By the end of the class, Andy had designed his own pool cue rack for use in his home.  He loved discovering how to take an idea from a sketch to fabrication.  He also learned how to create CAD files from his SOLIDWORKS class.  “I liked making stuff come to life–a physical thing–like the pool cue rack.” Andy says.

In addition, Andy joined Century’s Engineering club, and one of his favorite group projects involved creating an automated, enclosed garden, complete with moisture sensor, and UV grow lights, which he and his team displayed at the College’s semi-annual Robot Show.

Internship to Employment

In March 2019, Andy and his classmates took a tour of  Nextern, an international company with facilities in White Bear Lake. He started an internship in June, and worked the first shift until September, when he switched to the second shift.  Andy became a production lead for second shift in March 2020, and then became an engineering technician in October 2020.

“Nextern is a Medical device collaborator and works with companies needing engineering design resources. We process clients’ ideas from development to production,” Andy says. “I was fortunate to be part of Century College’s ADM program, and I’m now working for a company that’s on the cutting edge, and is growing at an exponential rate. I’m excited to be working at Nextern.”

Future Plans

Andy’s life will continue to be busy in the immediate future. This summer, he’ll begin taking courses in the Applied Engineering program (online) through Bemidji State, working on his four-year degree.  And, in the fall, he’ll travel to Costa Rica to help open a Nextern plant there.  How has he managed to work and attend college? “You have to be disciplined and organized,” Andy observes. “One you get into a rhythm, time goes by quickly.”

In the next few years, he hopes to continue moving up in his engineering role, and taking on more leadership opportunities.  He offers this advice for anyone who is looking at the ADM field, “Try stuff that sparks your curiosity.  Give it a shot.  Look at the coursework and potential for a sustainable career, then go for it.  Don’t overthink it.”

He adds, “I’m happy I chose Century College’s ADM program.  You get two years of technical skills, and if you find a good job, you can be surrounded by others who are experienced. You’ll see different tasks being done in new ways, and that can spark your curiosity, too, and inspire you to continue with your education.” 


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