Tour of HCC changes the future of current student

By Haywood Community College | Jan 13, 2017
Photo by: Donated photo. Haywood Community College computer-integrated machining student Miranda Thomas came to the college to take a tour with her brother who was interested in the program. She ended up enrolling too. She is pictured working on a project for the school’s Shine & Dine Gala.

CLYDE — Haywood Community College computer-integrated machining student Miranda Thomas became a certified nurse aide at the age of 16 and assumed her future would be in the medical field. After graduating high school, she entered the workforce and joined a nursing program at a nearby community college.

Thomas came to tour HCC’s Regional High Technology Center with her brother who was interested in the computer-integrated machining program. This is where her future took a drastically different direction.

“When I saw the machines run, I wanted to learn how they run and be able to run them,” Thomas said. “I came here for my brother, but ended up enrolling too.”

Thomas says she has devoted a lot of time over the years working with her dad and stepdad on projects in addition to spending time with her brothers. She is used to being in a predominantly male environment.

Thomas now realizes that she enjoys figuring things out and learning how to fix them.

On a recent trip to see area rugs, Thomas says her mom and sisters were in awe at the gorgeous rugs as they walked into the shop.

“But not me. I was busy staring at the machines that the rugs were rolled up on, trying to figure out how they worked,” she said.

Thomas drives to HCC every day from Buncombe County. While other local community colleges offer the computer-integrated machining program, Thomas notes that what tips HCC’s program over the edge is the exceptional instructors and the fact that the program is certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

This accreditation sends a powerful message that HCC’s program meets national industry standards and is rich in skill-based knowledge and job placement.

“We want our students to have every opportunity to succeed," said Doug Cabe, HCC computer-integrated machining instructor. "We teach from the ground up, creating an atmosphere in our labs like they will be in when they go to work.”

The Haywood Community College computer-integrated machining curriculum prepares students with the analytical, creative, and innovative skills necessary to take a production idea from an initial concept through design, development and production, resulting in a finished product.

Thomas says she enjoys the computer-integrated machining program because she is always doing something different.

“There’s so much variety in what we work on," she said. "I enjoy seeing a project from design to finished product. I can watch it come to life.”

In addition to hands-on classes, Thomas is learning even more by being a work-study student for the department.

“I am picking up so much more information as a work study. I get to help with a lot of projects and see machines work that we have not covered in class yet.”

Thomas is especially excited about getting out into the workforce after graduation.

“When you like what you’re doing, the day goes by quicker. Also, the pay in this field is very good.”

Next year if all goes according to plan, Thomas will finish the program with her brother.

For more information about HCC’s computer-integrated machining program, call 828-564-5117 or visit