Stories of Excellence–Will Thrailkill

Will Thrailkill has worked hard to achieve his goals. With a dedication and understanding beyond his years, Thrailkill has made the most of opportunities presented to him, and he is on a path to continue excelling in a career field he loves. In his own words, Thrailkill’s time at Mitchell “launched my college career and served as a foundation for the knowledge I have as an engineer.”


Thrailkill and his two siblings all attended Mitchell after earning diplomas through their homeschool program. When Thrailkill graduated in 2013, he visited a several community colleges in the area, and he felt an immediate connection to Mitchell. He chose to attend community college in the hopes of discovering a career path before attending a university. “I knew going to Mitchell would exposure me to a number of disciplines at a lower cost than a university while also allowing me to accomplish general education requirements,” he noted.


He quickly discovered a passion for mathematics and physics, which led him to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He enjoyed working under the tutelage of many of the faculty and staff at Mitchell. “I had such a good experience at Mitchell with teachers,” Thrailkill shared. “Honestly, it almost tempted me to pursue a degree in education because of how much I was inspired by so many of the teachers and their passion for teaching.” From sciences to humanities to communications and math courses, Thrailkill learned a great deal from his instructors. “I gained a deeper knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry,” Thrailkill stated, “and greater proficiency in skills valued in every field like writing, public speaking and critical thinking.”


At Mitchell, Thrailkill was consistently on the Dean’s list, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and named as a 2015 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He also won the Campus Impact Leadership Award, Physics Award, and the Outstanding Mathematics Student Award. Outside of instruction, Thrailkill enjoyed the camaraderie among classmates and club members. He appreciated the opportunities to aid in other students' learning through tutoring and supplemental instruction.


After graduating from Mitchell, Thrailkill attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and majored in mechanical engineering. Several other Mitchell students attended UNCC as engineering majors, and he enjoyed continuing to build those connections. He still maintains relationships with peers he met at Mitchell to this day.


Upon graduating from UNCC, he accepted an offer to work at NGK Ceramics USA Inc. in Mooresville as a manufacturing engineer. He interned at NGK during his time at Mitchell and made quite the impression on his supervisors. “I was immediately impressed by Will’s professional manner and work ethic,” Charlie Ferral, one of Thrailkill’s NGK mentors, stated. “It was also clear to me that he had a good grasp of basic engineering principals, and a good skill set in MS Office and other computer-based engineering applications. These are the traits and skills that would serve him and his future employer well no matter where he had landed after graduation.”


Thrailkill enjoys working at NGK because he gets to directly interact with the people he is designing products for. “The reason I like engineering so much is that it gives me an outlet to help people. I find that very fulfilling. Trying to optimize my design based what someone actually wants and needs is very satisfying to me.” Thrailkill’s main job duties at NGK consist of instillation of new machinery and optimization of machinery, project management and design, and working and communicating interdepartmentally.


Thrailkill plans to one day earn a master’s degree in engineering. He hasn’t ruled out teaching as a possible future career either. “It is such a fulfilling thing to see someone understand something and to learn a skill they haven’t had before.”


Thrailkill advises students to “Make lots of connections. Get to know your classmates’ strengths and weaknesses and try to help those with weaknesses and learn from those with strengths.” He encourages being very proactive and getting to know your teachers. “I made an intentional effort to develop a relationship with my teachers,” he shared. “When you have a personal relationship with your teachers it is different as opposed to just showing up to your class. It makes all the difference in motivation. It also helps you learn their teaching style and expectations”


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