Statesville, NC – Drake Kerley, a recent graduate of Mitchell Community College, exemplifies how determination and resourcefulness can accomplish great things – especially with the support and guidance of others. That is the experience that Kerley found at Mitchell Community College. 


While at the College, Kerley enrolled in the mechanical engineering technology program which prepped him for the necessary skills needed for a career path as an engineer; pursuing this path, he took courses in advanced math, CAD systems, Advanced Integrated Manufacturing Systems (AIMS) and more. 


But Kerley’s path was not always so evident. 

“I sort of found my way over to this area,” remarks Kerley of his experience at Mitchell as he stood in the machine shop where he built his own CNC machine. “I really like machines and creating things.” 

Kerley recalled walking past the College’s AIMS lab as an engineering student which sparked the idea that he could build his own CNC machine for way less than the cost of purchasing one. 

“I figured I could probably make something using the skills that I learned at Mitchell and have acquired over the years to design and build my own CNC machine. It was a lot cheaper than buying one,” Kerley explained. 


In this pursuit, Kerley reached out to instructors at Mitchell and expressed his goals; he received nothing but support. 

“All instructors here at Mitchell have pointed me in the right direction,” said Kerley. “I asked if I could build this machine and was told that the lab was here so that [students] could learn and use it to its fullest.” 

Kerley encourages any potentially interested student to reach out to the College, adding that his experience with the mechanical engineering program has established a foundation for a multitude of future possibilities such as starting a job, advancing to further his education, or starting an internship all based on his skills gained at Mitchell. 

“I used my engineering skills to design and make something I can use, and you can too,” summarized Kerley as he advised interested students to pursue the program. 

For more information about Mitchell Community College’s manufacturing and industrial programs, visit

For information about Mitchell's mechanical engineering technology program, visit:

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