Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Maintenance Technician with Ryan Hughes

The Making of a Maintenance Technician with Ryan HughesRyan Hughes has had a life-long fascination with how things work. He grew up reading about the early Industrial Revolution when humans started to transition from mostly using their hands for production to using machines. Many of the innovations from that time went on to change the world. Like many teens, Ryan worked in food service, but he knew that wasn’t where he wanted to stay. He found his way into warehouse and construction jobs after high school. Then he quickly learned that he wanted to stick with construction, but he also wanted to earn more money and have job security. He looked at the options available to him and discovered the Maintenance Technician program at Carrington College. There, he was able to unite his interest in mechanics with his desire for a more stable and profitable career.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Indiana and spent some time in Texas, Nevada, and California, but I’ve been in Arizona most of my life. My work history started in customer service and retail like most people. I did kitchen work in restaurants and became tired of that very quickly. I’m good with customers but I didn’t enjoy that form of customer service. My last food service job was with a Mexican restaurant after I graduated from high school in 2016. After that, I moved on to working in warehouses where I was certified in lift training and forklift operation. Then I went into construction and worked for Fulton, Sun Roofing, and some minor companies in the Phoenix area.

I was growing tired of being easily replaceable and doing what felt like grunt work. I also wanted something with more job security and better pay. That is ultimately what led me to the Maintenance Technician program at Carrington College.

When did you decide to go back to school?

It was in July of 2021 when I first saw a YouTube commercial for Carrington College. So, I looked them up and realized that they were only about thirty minutes away from where I was living in Surprise, Arizona.

What motivated you to choose Carrington College?

In addition to being close to where I lived, I realized the program was affordable and it wouldn’t take very long for me to complete. My program was from August 2021 to March 2022. I got my Certificate in Maintenance Technician which covered power transmission, fluid power, basic industrial electricity, and programmable logical controls.

What was your favorite part of your program at Carrington College?

I enjoyed all of it. If I were to choose a favorite part, I would say power transmission. That’s where we learned gears, belts, drives, and the beginning of motors. I have always enjoyed seeing how things fit and work together. I grew up loving the early history of the Industrial Revolution, which is where so much of that started. It is also interesting to me to see how it has progressed. Learning about programmable logical controls (PLCs) was another favorite part of my program. That is where we learned coding so it can be applied to automation. Modern car manufacturing is probably a good example of how it is often applied. There will be mechanical arms moving parts, drilling, screwing in bolts, turning pieces, attaching doors, and so on. All of that is programmed using logical controls.

What was the most challenging part of your program?

I would have to say the electricity portion was the most challenging part just because of all the math that is involved. Also, the safety portion of electricity. If you can’t see the danger, it is easy to forget it is there. Thankfully, Carrington College is very safety-focused. They teach a step-by-step safety process for everything, and that gets ingrained in your head over time.

What got you through the challenging times?

I was working as a part-time bartender at the time. It was just enough money to get by and afford gas to and from school.

Is there a Carrington College instructor whom you would like to acknowledge?

They were all amazing. My teacher Brian Como was a very funny, great guy from Ohio. Then there was Kim Scofield, Program Director Technology Programs (retired), who always was helpful. If I remember correctly, he had thirty to forty years of experience as an electrician. I could go to him if I had any questions. What I enjoyed most were the personable relationships that I had with my teachers. They were down-to-earth, honest, and sincere. I am still in touch with them sometimes if I have a question. They will get back to me with help and cross-reference.

Please tell us about your work after graduating.

After graduation, I worked in the Enrollment Services department at Carrington College for several months. I want to make sure I thank Crystal Williams, Hailey Nopar, James Jones, and James McKee for all the help they gave me when I was working there. They were incredible.

After my time there, I moved out to Tennessee with my sister for a few months to do a full-time fiber technician position with DirectLine. We were building a data center for Facebook that was five times the size of a football field. I found fiber tech. enjoyable and it was a good way to get into the field. It’s very much the same process of routines, maintenance, and executing plans. It’s everything I am familiar with and it has been a rather nice experience. I will be doing a project for the same company soon under the name e2 Optics in the Phoenix metro area.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

It is very predictable work that doesn’t change every day. That means that I’m not constantly having to learn something new and try to keep up.

How did Carrington College prepare you for your career?

They instilled a sense of professionalism, which I already had to a degree, but they emphasized it to an even greater degree.

Do you have any advice for people who are interested in your field?

If you are thinking about going into this field, you are already, in a sense, dedicated to it. Take every day step-by-step. You can also take it minute-by-minute–that works, too. Keep a scholarly mindset, meaning always take in new information. Even the most minor thing can be a learning opportunity. You’ll find people who have many more years of experience who are learning something new every day.

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