The OCC Effect: Mike Carno, ’13

Mike Carno, ’13 visited the “machine shop classroom” in the Whitney Applied Technology Center recently.

Mike Carno has always enjoyed being a “hands on” kind of worker. After graduating from Bishop Ludden in 2011 he spent the summer working in a machine shop. He planned to attend OCC in the fall but wasn’t sure what he would major in. “A week before the semester started I got a tour of the machine shop (classroom in the Whitney Applied Technology Center) and became a Mechanical Technology major. I wound up loving it.”

While excelling in Mechanical Technology, Carno learned about the College’s Nuclear Technology program. He was intrigued by the career possibilities but stuck with Mechanical Technology, earning his associate degree in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY IT two years later.

By the fall of 2015 Carno was back on the OCC campus pursuing degrees in both Nuclear Technology and Electrical Technology. “The cool thing about the nuclear program is that they get people who work at Nine Mile and Fitzpatrick (nuclear plants) to come and teach. They would tell us about the job market and when to apply.”

Carno was about three-quarters of the way through the programs when he applied for a job at Nine Mile and was hired almost instantly. His position in Operations pays extremely well and he’s found the work environment to be outstanding. “It’s a very controlled, very steady pace. Everything is controlled by nuclear procedures. Safety is very big. People are also very open to feedback, especially when you come in as a newer employee and look at things differently than others.”

Two years into his nuclear career Carno remains grateful to OCC and all of the professors who he learned from in the Mechanical Technology, Nuclear Technology and Electrical Technology majors. “The people who were teaching you had done these jobs before and knew what they were talking about. If you had a question that wasn’t straight out of a book, they could answer it. They were very open to helping you as long as you put the work in and definitely oveprepared you.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Mechanical Technology, Electrical Technology and Nuclear Technology majors here. Students who do well in these majors have the option of going directly into the workplace with outstanding starting salaries or transferring and pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

Sparking the Learning Process

Students in the Mechanical Technology major are learning to literally read sparks.   When a piece of metal is put up against a grinding wheel, the resulting pattern and color of sparks indicates the type of metal that it is.   The color, length, shape, quantity of spurts, and volume of the spark indicates the various alloys that make up the steel or metal.  For instance, wrought iron will produce a large stream of sparks that has very few spurts and is straw colored near the grinder and white colored near the end of the stream.

Charts like this help students learn how to read metal sparks.
Charts like this help students learn how to read metal sparks.

Mechanical Technology Professor Bob Tanchak says it is critical for students to understand and know what kind of metal that they are about to work with. “For instance, if a part needs to be made from a low carbon, low alloy steel you probably would not want to use a high carbon, high alloy steel. Every material has certain properties or characteristics that will cause the material to behave differently when subject to a mechanical load or force. If the material needs to be heat treated, the high carbon steel will become very hard and very brittle. It can actually shatter like a piece of glass when impacted.”

Freshman Mechanical Technology major Daniel Taylor (Phoenix High School) is fascinated by the hands-on learning. “It’s interesting to learn the impact and importance of picking the right metal when you make something.” Taylor is using his OCC education to become a CNC machinist and operator.

Freshman Daniel Taylor analyzes the sparks which come from titanium, a strong and light metal used in the production of products such as airplanes, golf clubs and knee replacements.
Freshman Daniel Taylor analyzes the sparks which come from titanium, a strong and light metal used in the production of products such as airplanes, golf clubs and knee replacements.