“While it may be a different experience to start higher-education in one’s early 20s rather than 18, I have come to appreciate the perspective and skills that world-experience can bring to college.”
Will Jeffries grew up in West Topsham, Vermont, where he was homeschooled and raised working on his family’s farm. Although he learned a great deal from the mechanical and construction projects that were his specialty, this situation did not provide the support he needed to attend college at the traditional age. At 23 he made a new start for himself and soon found employment as an assembly-line welder working at Woodstock Soapstone Stoves in West Lebanon.
“The owner of the company saw that I had a strong interest in design and problem-solving however, and this led to my staying late after the production shift ended to build new prototypes” After less than a year Jeffries had risen through the ranks to become an integral part of the engineering team, developing new products and puzzling out the solutions to manufacturing processes. “At this point, my employer offered me assistance for college and, most importantly, a flexible work-schedule so that I could attend classes full-time while still supporting myself.”
Vermont Tech became the school of choice because it offered Jeffries a more hands-on and affordable education in his field of interest, while also remaining within reach of his work in West Lebanon. With a deeply rooted love for science and design combined with fresh successes in the manufacturing industry, Jeffries decided to join the Mechanical Engineering Associates program that feeds into the Electromechanical Engineering Technology Bachelor’s degree.
“These interests and experiences naturally inclined me towards mechanical engineering and technology, although I also hold a strong interest for leadership and a personal passion for arts and culture. This was another reason that I chose Vermont Tech since I have also been able to take classes such as Principals of Management, and participate in events with the Multicultural Club.” Jeffries has since had the opportunity to apply lessons from his management course to his job as engineer and project leader at Woodstock Soapstone Stoves.
Jeffries also says that “The balance that I have found here of work, school, and other interests makes life a rich tapestry of experience and has led to opportunities that I had never expected, including an unforgettable engineering internship at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this summer.”
He encourages all his fellow classmates to be passionate and engaged with the wider world outside of classes as well, “I make sure to find time outside of work and school for friends, community, and a variety of interests. I love hiking, swimming, and simply exploring new places to find the hidden gems out there in the world; driving to Burlington or Montreal for a weekend. One passion that follows me in most of my travels is a love for social dances of all kinds; Swing, Contra-Dance, Blues, Fusion, and Argentine Tango to name a few.”
Looking forward, Jeffries plans to continue advancing his education while also exploring the many opportunities available. He says he’s already looking at next summer’s internship possibilities and all the experiences that might bring. Jeffries hopes to find his niche in leading and working alongside both engineers and scientists to develop new technological capabilities and understanding; achieving this either by expanding human frontiers in the space-industry or by developing solutions to preserve a resource-sustainable planet for future generations.