Rowan-Cabarrus student uses new knowledge to grow career

  • Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 6:54 a.m.

CONCORD — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College soon-to-be graduate Tony Rary began his journey at the college with an introduction to computers class in 2004.

Over time, his career at Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast expanded, and Rary was offered a manager’s position over plant operations and maintenance, which required an associate degree.


As a new manager in facilities, Rary felt that the industrial engineering technology program was the right fit.

The curriculum prepares students to perform as technical leaders in manufacturing and service organizations.

“Problem solving is the key to the industrial engineering technology program,” said Franklin Merrell, program chair of industrial engineering technology.

With Rary being well into his 50s, he recognized that the classes within the Industrial Engineering Technology program would be difficult and consume his time, especially with having to manage time at work, home and getting to class every day.

“Starting back to college in my 50s was strange,” said Tony. “Not only was I taking college courses, but my wife and I had two of our five children in college at the same time. However, every instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus made it possible to get the work done.”

As a student, Tony missed very few classes; even when facing surgery, he found a way to do his classwork and homework at home to enable him to complete and pass the class.

“With less than six weeks left in the class, I was faced with a necessary surgery. Thankfully, the instructors were easy to work with and helped me with the extra time I needed to complete the course and be successful,” said Tony.

While completing his degree at Rowan-Cabarrus, Tony had the chance to work with a team of seven people to draft his own design of a nuclear medicine department for CMC-NorthEast. In the end, Tony’s design won over all of the others when it came to travel distances, exits, and the things industrial engineers look for when designing an operational area. He credits his knowledge and advantages from the classes in maintenance, engineering and operations that Rowan-Cabarrus offered him.

“The industrial engineering technology program helps students just like me take a close look at their work environments and processes,” said Tony. “Now that I am a manager covering multiple trades, I always ask why. Why are we doing it this way? I’m constantly looking to improve every situation and system that I encounter.”

Tony has now been with CMC for 40 years.

“Tony’s continued success came from his willingness to succeed as well as his strength to embrace lifelong learning,” said Merrell. “We’re very proud to have Tony as a graduate.

“People think that industrial engineering technology students can only go to work in manufacturing. These days, it’s simply not true. A full third of my graduates are working for non-manufacturing companies such as Food Lion, Carolinas Healthcare, and Corning.

“Ultimately, my students are problem solvers. All organizations need employees with the ability to think critically and solve problems in the current competitive work environment,” said Merrell.

For more information, contact Frank Merrell at 704-216-3920 or franklin.merrell@rccc.edu. The college is currently registering students for the spring semester.

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