A first-generation college student, Caleb Bristol discovered that college is not just a place to learn but an ideal spot to make career connections. “I knew I wanted to be in the engineering discipline, and Vermont Tech's program fit my interests well,” he says.
As an architectural engineering technology major, he was heavily involved in professional organizations, such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students).
“ASHRAE has been a great networking opportunity,” Caleb says, “and all I hear from the older engineers when I tell them that I go to Vermont Tech is what a great program it is.” Recently, Caleb and two other Vermont Tech graduates were informed they placed first in a northeast regional engineering and design competition. Caleb and another classmate received a $5,000 scholarship from ASHRAE in 2015.
“I was interested in HVAC before that but meeting professionals and seeing first-hand what was going on in the industry drew me towards it.”
He appreciates that Vermont Tech is “small, affordable and career-focused. The classes are all relevant to what I want to do and have small class sizes. My professors are easy to find and give me plenty of one-on-one attention.” Vermont Tech’s small size also means that Caleb has met plenty of students, especially in his job as a resident assistant (RA).
Caleb even had a job while completing his studies.
“I was able to get several scholarships that faculty pushed me to apply for and wrote recommendations for me. I can't thank them enough for that. I did keep an eye out on the clipboards outside Career Services and was able to get a side job my Senior Year that way."
Caleb graduated in 2016 and is now employed at Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering. “It was especially helpful to have applied classes that were relevant to the field. Having some knowledge of Revit (a modeling software) allowed me to jump in and start drafting my first week on the job.”
Three of his co-workers are also Vermont Tech Alumni.
“They were my "in." I think the employers that have heard of Vermont Tech, or hired Vermont Tech graduates, know that they're prepared to work hard right away.”
So how is Caleb adjusting to his new career? He loves it! But the hard work didn’t stop when he graduated.
“It does feel a lot like college in that you have a lull for a couple weeks followed by a week or two of serious crunch time. I got thrown right to the wolves when I started, working alongside engineers on big projects I never saw myself working on. I think this speaks to the quality of VTC that they would trust me with minimal in-house training.”
Caleb has some great advice for any students thinking about an Engineering Technology degree:
“Even if you get a project you're not particularly fond of, you're not stuck with it forever. I may go into work and draw piping for a week straight, but the next week could be doing something completely different. It keeps you on your toes and constantly learning.”