Artist becomes Industrial Engineering Technologist
When Angela Penton returned to NSCC at 39, she’d already achieved success as a chef, a landscaper, a textile artist and a metalsmith. What she felt was missing, however, was a high school diploma.
“I left high school a year before I graduated,” says Angela. “Back then, you didn't have to have your high school diploma to start an apprenticeship program, so I left and did cooking at NSCC.”
During that time, Angela’s artistry in the kitchen inspired her to branch out, and she soon found herself in a metalsmithing, design and art history degree, and running her own textile business on the side. As the demands of running a business, attending school and raising a young family became too much, Angela says she had to make a choice. “I left my degree with just a handful of courses remaining.”
“I ran my own business for six years, and also supervised at a landscaping company,” says Angela. “But, because I didn't have my high school or degree, I was very limited in what I could do.”
With her heart set on a more stable and rewarding career, Angela decided she was going to finish what she had started.
I looked through all of NSCC’s programs and I kept coming back to Industrial Engineering Technology because I saw that these professionals were in every industry. It was something that didn't narrow my opportunities, as many of my life choices had up to that point.
Back to class
“I completed my last year of university first. Then, I enrolled in the Adult Learning Program. Because I had just finished my degree I was able to get credit for nearly all the high school credits that I required, except math.”
Through the program, Angela discovered her aptitude as a problem solver. “I realized I really wanted to change careers and do something technical –– something that would allow me to get into a management role.”
Angela says she saw NSCC’s two year program options as the fastest route to starting a new career. “I wanted to get some real intensive education that would allow me to go right into the work world.” She adds, “I looked through all of NSCC’s programs and I kept coming back to Industrial Engineering Technology because I saw that these professionals were in every industry. It was something that opened up my opportunities, as many of my life choices had up to that point.”
Angela admits she was scared that she was “too old” to go back to school and worried that employers wouldn’t hire someone her age. “I knew I had the potential, but it took the program to retrain my mind to see myself as someone who could operate as a professional at that level.”
Entering the industry
She soon discovered that age wasn’t an obstacle. “I was past that point in life where I was worried about standing out, asking questions or feeling silly. I put myself out there and networked.”
Her hard work paid off. After graduation, Angela was hired as the Process Improvement Specialist for Hercules SLR — a specialty industrial equipment, products and services company.
Angela says her position is the perfect blend of creativity and technical thinking. “I felt badly about leaving my artistic career and thought that I’d never get to be creative again; but, I learned that creativity isn't just limited to making things or designing things. It's a way of thinking.”
Hitting her stride
Angela says she now works to ensure that the company’s more than 400 employees remain focused on reducing operational waste and variance across processes.
Angela explains that a large part of the success of this project and others like it is strategic communication. “The first thing that we learn in the program is the idea that you have to go to where the work is being done — a gemba walk. See it, ask questions, learn from the person doing it and show respect. Treat them like the experts that they are.”
She adds, “It’s only when an Industrial Engineering Technologist does that, that we see the truly meaningful impact we can make.”
The role of an Industrial Engineering Technologist is to determine the most effective way to produce a product or provide a service and ultimately, help organizations exercise better control of production, service, quality, costs and deployment of resources.