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OCC Graduate Building Submarine Components for U.S. Naval Contractor

After completing his welding certificate at Olney Central College, Andrew Garrison is now building submarine components for a U.S. naval contractor.

The Fairfield native joined BWXT Technologies a little over four months ago at its Mt. Vernon, Ind. facility, which manufactures heavy components for naval nuclear reactors and aircraft carriers.
It is a precise and time-consuming operation as a single naval reactor can take five years to complete.

“There are so many things you have to do on it,” Garrison said. “There is a lot of X-ray testing to ensure specifications are met and different materials we have to be trained on. Lives are at stake when we’re building these so things have to be 100 percent perfect.”

Garrison takes pride in the quality of his work and likes the attention to detail.
“The jobs I have had before I just needed to get things done,” he said. “Here things are relaxed because they want you to take your time. They want you to be honest. If you mess something up, they don’t want you to be afraid to tell someone. They want you to do the best you can.”

But it is a career opportunity Garrison could have missed if it wasn’t for a slow day at his former job when he got the chance to try welding.
“I never did welding in high school. I never even touched a rod,” Garrison said. “I found I really enjoyed it.”
Garrison was eager to learn more, but wasn’t sure he was ready to return to school after being out of the classroom for three years.

“The thought of going back to school was a little overwhelming,” he said. “I wasn’t confident. My girlfriend had been to college and she pushed me to do it. I went to OCC and it was the best experience. I would do it again. It is never too late to go back to school.”
Garrison encourages others with an interest in the field to enroll in OCC’s Welding Program.

“I would recommend it to anyone,” he said. “I liked the atmosphere. It is cheaper than other welding schools, and the program is just as good. There was so much stuff I learned. I almost wish it was a two-year program.”

Garrison said students also benefit from the experiences of Instructor Curtis Marshall.
“I think it is nice that we’re learning from someone who went through the same program,” Garrison said. “Curtis is a great instructor. If you didn’t understand something, he would reword it. He liked to help and he would do anything in his power to help you get through.”

Marshall also strives to place program graduates with employers. He suggested Garrison, who serves in the National Guard, look into employment opportunities with BWXT.
“Curtis told us about the place and he knew they liked to hire veterans,” Garrison said. “He recommended that I apply before graduation.”

Garrison is thrilled the firm hired him.
“It’s a really good company and the benefits are good,” he added. “Because it is a government job, you can work 25 years and retire. You don’t get that at most jobs.”



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