BOONE—The North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies (NCCET) has hired Michael McNally as its new director. The center’s 55,000 square-foot facility, located in Hickory, provides facilities for applied research in engineering-related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by institutions in the the University of North Carolina system.
McNally replaces Dr. Sid Connor, who retired after leading the NCCET for eight years since its opening in 2008.
The NCCET resulted from a grassroots movement to replace outgoing textile and furniture industry skillsets with fields of study offered at the state universities related to science, technology and engineering. A collaborative effort of representatives from business, government and higher education, including Appalachian State University, established the center to meet the educational needs of area students and the occupational needs of area employers.
For the last decade, McNally has worked in community and economic development. His background includes serving as executive vice president of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior positions include director of existing industry services for the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation and president and CEO of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce. He also served as a part-time instructor for Catawba Valley Community College. McNally earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from East Carolina University.
“I am excited about this opportunity to work for Appalachian State University in leading the NCCET,” McNally said. “This center will work with partner organizations and institutions in an effort to collaboratively meet the ever-evolving needs of our business community. We will provide top-flight facilities to educate and train our future workforce in engineering-related disciplines and we will continue to work with community colleges, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to provide assistance in bringing ideas and innovation to the global marketplace.
“Communities and businesses across the globe are experiencing difficulty in finding a highly trained, 21st century workforce,” McNally explained. “The more educated a region is the more success it will have in growing local businesses and recruiting new businesses. Therefore, it is imperative to offer the training needed to provide our citizens with the best opportunity to obtain these jobs and advance in their careers. The result of this work will be increased wages and a higher standard of living for everyone in the region.”
The western geographical region primarily served by NCCET has a large population and does not house a university offering four-year degrees in engineering or related fields. As a result, McNally said, the center works with institutions to help meet those education needs.
The facility’s laboratories and classrooms allow community college graduates who have earned an associate’s degree to enroll in select courses on a part-time basis. Credit hours earned from those courses can be transferred to one of the four-year institutions where those students can earn degrees.
In addition to educational opportunities for adults, the NCCET hosts summer engineering and robotics campus for elementary and middle school students, which are taught by area school teachers in collaboration with NCCET staff.
“At the center, we can help to be a bit of a catalyst or connector between students, schools and the business community,” said McNally. “We can strengthen that pipeline of students who desire post-secondary training in engineering related fields and ultimately provide area businesses the skilled labor that they need to be successful.”
For more information about the NCCET, visit http://nccet.appstate.edu/about-us.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.