A Chattahoochee Technical College graduate is doing his part to help victims suffering from coronavirus.
In his job as a machinist with Win-Tech Inc. in Kennesaw, Nicholas Long is using the skills he learned in CTC’s computer numerical control program to make pieces for ventilators that are needed for patients who are battling the respiratory illness.
“We began production of ventilator parts about a week ago,” said the 25-year-old, who graduated from CTC last summer. “All CNC lathes in the shop are now dedicated to their production.”
Long said those pieces may not be the only things the custom precision machining and manufacturing shop, which has been deemed an essential business, ends up making before the pandemic is over.
“To my knowledge, the ventilator parts are the only things directly related to COVID-19 relief that we have on the floor at the moment, but we may very well get more orders from more people,” he said. “Whatever they need, we can make it happen.”
Helping out with the relief effort is “truly fulfilling,” said Long, who lives in Marietta with his wife, Lauren.
“It makes me feel like we're making a difference and doing our part to help in this crisis,” he said.
In its day-to-day operations, Win-Tech makes custom parts for a wide variety of industries, including aerospace.
“Besides ventilator parts, we make missile fins for missile defense, aircraft parts, tooling, ground crew equipment, training devices – the list goes on,” Long said. “Like I said, whatever the customer needs, we make happen.”
The 2013 graduate of Kell High School began his post-secondary education at Kennesaw State University as a mechanical engineering major but switched to Chattahoochee Tech after developing another interest.
“I decided to go there because I realized I wasn't going to get a deep hands-on understanding of machining and metalworking at KSU,” he said. “I got one semester of it, and that was all my major had, but the machining bug had bit me so instead, I transferred over to a strictly machining program at CTC’s North Metro campus under the excellent [instructor] Wayne Plos to earn a CNC technology diploma.”
A family connection to machining also played a part in Long’s decision to enroll in the brand-new program.
“My Uncle Bob is a machinist, and I’ve seen some of the wild stuff he's made for his choppers, and I thought, ‘Well, hey, I love working with my hands, and then I’ll have the skills I need for my own projects,’” he said.
Long said he also knew he “didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk.”
“I wanted to be out on the floor, running machines, making parts and being active in doing something,” he said.
While at Chattahoochee Tech, Long’s machining instructor told him about an opening for a machinist at Win-Tech, and he landed the job in fall 2018.
“I wanted to work here because it seemed like a great place to keep growing and learning as a machinist,” he said. “We have lots of different machines and processes, and I want to learn as much as I can.”
The work he did ended up counting toward his internship elective for school, and the company kept him on board after he graduated.
“Our shop manager recognized Nicholas with a Win-Tech challenge coin not long ago,” Operations Director Allison Giddens said in a news release. “He was recognized in front of his peers because he embodies the Win-Tech values of accountability, accuracy and respect. He’s someone eager to learn the next thing and ready to get it right.”
Carving out a career as a highly skilled professional has been a rewarding experience for Long so far.
“I most enjoy the sense of pride in being able to hold up a finished part and say, ‘Yep, I made that,’” he said. “Taking something from a piece of raw material to a finished part that's going to go out in the world is really gratifying.”