Q&A with Curtis Damon

Student responder for the May 14 commencement at Purdue College of Technology in South Bend.

Curtis Damon

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Major: Industrial technology
Campus: Purdue South Bend
Home: Born in Tinley Park, Ill., but has lived in South Bend since 1989
High school: Clay High School, Class of 2000

Employment: Associate project engineer for PEI-Genesis in South Bend since September. Before that, he spent five years as an engineer/designer for North American Forest Products Inc. in Edwardsburg, Mich.

Career goal: Advance into a management role, eventually running an engineering department or becoming a plant or facility manager. Might want to one day own a company.

Why Purdue College of Technology at South Bend? "Staying near home allowed me to pursue other interests - such as being a musician and starting a career - while achieving a higher education. Money was also a factor, and staying in South Bend allowed me to live at home.

"My older brother is a Purdue graduate, and I used to visit him down in West Lafayette. After hearing that one of his friends started his college degree in South Bend, and seeing both of their successes, it really motivated me to go back to school. Achieving a degree from Purdue became much more of a realistic opportunity to me - without needing to quit a job."

What was the transition like going from Ivy Tech to Purdue? "The transition was very smooth. Lori Butcho (student coordinator) was a great help in advising coursework and getting my credits transferred over to Purdue. We did have to work at getting some credits approved, but all in all it was pretty simple. The classroom sizes at Purdue South Bend are relatively the same size as the classes at Ivy Tech. Both schools have an emphasis on small class sizes and the availability to reach professor off hours."

How do you manage your time? "I'm always checking my email, at least 10 times a day, to keep up to date on projects and homework, especially now that email is available on smart phones.

"I work full time, so the hours I'm not at work are precious for completing assignments. I generally stay late at school or after class to work on homework or projects, and often come in on the evenings on days I don't have class. I also use my lunchtime or any free moment available during the day to complete or work on assignments.

"Generally, it just comes down to setting email reminders, calendar events and finishing assignments quickly and efficiently. I am not the type to procrastinate; I generally finish assignments or projects long before they are due. This helps me stay on top of my work, school and social life, even if I occasionally do homework on the weekends."

What is your view of the Ivy Tech and Purdue relationship? "If my case is an example, a lot of students don't know exactly what field they'd like to go into after high school. Ivy Tech allows individuals to take quality classes, economically, while taking the opportunity to decide exactly what field they'd like to go into. Ivy Tech offers many associate and certificate programs, but I felt (and others may feel the same) that once I got back into the groove of going to school I didn't want to quit with an associate degree."

What role does the Purdue College of Technology play in the South Bend economy? "The College of Technology trains local professionals and young adults on new advanced topics in engineering, quality and design. I have personally witnessed many individuals who are not looking for a particular degree but are taking classes for advancement at work and/or for a direct improvement at the workplace they are currently at. The classes in lean manufacturing and production, Six Sigma and inventory management are very straightforward and make it easy to take what you learn and implement it directly into your workplace.

"The College of Technology also allows individuals to stay at home, advance their education and build careers. This is a great benefit to both students and the local businesses in the area. It allows the local community to hire people who are from the area, who are highly educated and motivated to work. You can't beat hiring individuals who don't need relocation packages, know the area where they live and the community around them, and have the knowledge and education to help companies succeed."

How have your experiences at the College of Technology prepared you to be a leader? "Purdue's programs help you grow as a leader and take charge of situations at hand. Taking classes at Purdue helps you develop teamwork, pride and the need to strive for the best you can achieve. I now know how to communicate in a group setting while still being as personable as possible. We learn how to look for solutions, push the envelope and work towards a brighter tomorrow. When I bring these characteristics and or traits into the workplace, it helps build confidence, esteem and a drive to be the best."

Information about commencement exercises: Forty-eight students will graduate at 2 p.m. May 14 in the Little Theater of the Moreau Center for the Arts on the Saint Mary's campus, Notre Dame. In all, 170 students are enrolled at the College of Technology at South Bend across five degree programs. The South Bend location has scholarships available, as do the Purdue alumni clubs from St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties in Indiana and southwestern Michigan.

About Purdue College of Technology Statewide: Statewide Technology is an extension of the College of Technology. Its degree programs follow the same curriculum requirements as the programs on the West Lafayette campus. Classes are taught by Purdue faculty or those approved by academic department heads. More than 1,350 students are enrolled at its sites in Anderson, Columbus, Greensburg, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes. Of those, 53 percent attend full time.

Michael Sanders, director of the Purdue College of Technology at South Bend, mdsanders@purdue.edu
Curtis Damon, 574-277-9301, diversion00@hotmail.com