Thursday, 16 July 2020 12:31

RichmondCC graduate designing cutting-edge technology

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Richmond Community College graduate Thomas Alfredson transferred to UNC-Charlotte to complete his education and become an electrical engineer. Richmond Community College graduate Thomas Alfredson transferred to UNC-Charlotte to complete his education and become an electrical engineer. RichmondCC

HAMLET—Richmond Community College graduate Thomas Alfredson is in the midst of a new generation of technology that is vastly improving the wireless network. An electrical engineer, Alfredson is a designer of 5G small cell antennas that are able to handle mass amounts of data at fast speeds, meaning your calls won't get dropped, you can stream music on your phone, or you can watch your favorite Netflix show without it buffering.

Living and working in Durham, Alfredson is among a team of designers contracted out by Leidos, a global leader in information technology, engineering and science. His team is currently working with Dominion Energy to provide better service for customers in Virginia and the Outer Banks area of North Carolina.

"This position has broadened what I've learned in college, and I've found I do like designing for companies like this," said Alfredson, a 2016 graduate of RichmondCC’s Electronics Engineering Technology program.

Alfredson said the design process includes researching the location that a company wants to mount an antenna and designing the route for its power source that meets National Electrical Safety Code and other company guidelines.

Inquisitive Minds Want to Know

Alfredson, a native of Rockingham, has always had a passion for taking things apart and then putting them back together. He felt the Electronics Engineering Technology program at RichmondCC was a good fit for him and his love for seeing how things work. Plus, he had taken free college classes at RichmondCC while in high school through the Career & College Promise program. When he graduated Temple Christian School, he enrolled in RichmondCC with a transcript full of college credits already earned.

While at RichmondCC, Alfredson received the Working Scholarship, which is designed to help students who don't qualify for federal financial aid, and the NC Community College Grant. He also was a RichmondCC Ambassador, which provided him with additional scholarship money and many opportunities to represent the college at various functions on and off campus.

“Thomas was a very engaged student. He wasn't shy when it came to asking questions and participating in class,” Electronics Engineering Technology instructor Billie Adeimy said. “He always had a great attitude and lots of enthusiasm. I had no doubt he would be successful in reaching his educational goals and beyond.”

Taking the Next Step

When Alfredson made the decision to continue his education after graduating from RichmondCC, he felt well prepared for the university level.

"Coming from a private school where there weren't that many kids, RichmondCC was definitely a good step for me to get acclimated to a larger crowd and that kind of teaching environment. Some of the electronic classes at RichmondCC weren't that big, so you could really get that one-on-one with a professor when you had a question," he said. “Starting at RichmondCC definitely helped me transition to UNC-Charlotte."

At the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Alfredson was able to transfer many of his Electronics Engineering Technology classes into the Electrical Engineering program. According to Career & Transfer Services Director Patsy Stanley, UNC-Charlotte accepts credits from all of RichmondCC's two-year engineering technology programs.

"This articulation agreement with the UNC system is very beneficial for our engineering students who want to complete a bachelor's degree, because it saves them both time and money," Stanley said.

Alfredson's major at UNC-Charlotte also included a concentration in Applied Energy Systems.

"In those classes, we studied renewable energy, so that could be another potential career path I could follow. The designer part of what I do now, however, has definitely opened up more doors and given me more experience with designing."

A Developing Leader

Alfredson has volunteered to also act as a process team leader, so he manages all the processing of documents and makes sure the information they contain is up to date. Not only is this helping him better understand the design process, it is preparing him to advance into a management position.

“Hopefully in a couple of years, I can manage my own team to continue the 5G design or another project that may start," he said. “To be a leader is something I seek to be.”

The 360 Degree Program

Adeimy describes Electronics Engineering Technology as the “360 Degree Program,” because like Alfredson, it prepares students to take their education and skills in a variety of directions.

"In this program, you learn to design, build, install, test, troubleshoot, repair, and modify electronic components, equipment, and systems such as industrial and computer controls, manufacturing systems, communication systems, and power electronic systems. You are equipped with many skills for many types of careers,” Adeimy said. “It’s a great program for anyone who wants to have a broad skill set and lots of opportunities.”

For More Information

The Electronics Engineering Technology program at RichmondCC is accepting new students for fall semester. Applications can be completed for free online at www.richmondcc.edu/admissions. To speak with a counselor about registering for classes or completing forms for financial aid or scholarships, call (910) 410-1700 or visit the Hamlet Campus or the Scotland County Campus.