Sole Education Week 5: Personal Safety On the Job

Sole Education - Personal Safety on the Job

Safety goggles, hardhats, and you guessed it – safety footwear are all examples of materials that may be used as PPE (personal protective equipment) in the trades.  As a mechanical engineering intern and student, Mikayla had her own experience with PPE, let’s learn about what safety measures and protocols are taken in the industry:

Personal Safety on the Job

While in my first engineering classes, we learned a few safety protocols for Brown Steel Toe Boots when we are working with machinery, harmful chemicals, or near dangerous equipment.

Personal Safety Standards Include:

  • Wearing long hair up in a bun to prevent it from getting caught in machinery or dipped in harmful chemicals,
  • Wearing closed-toe or steel-toed boots while on a machine shop floor,
  • Always wear safety glasses when on the shop floor
  • Wearing long work pants
  • Wearing a safety vest.

In my intro to machining class, I was the only female so I was the only one that needed to follow the safety protocol for putting my hair up and out of the way. The risk with having your hair down can be that it gets caught in spinning machinery, it can be dipped into contaminants, and it can get in the way of a part you are examining. At Volvo Trucks, we are required to wear safety glasses and steel-toed boots whenever we enter the machine shop or truck garage. This is because it is a liability if heavy machinery were to land on our toes, and if harmful chemicals or metal chips fly into our face. Safety is incredibly important for work productivity, without these protocols, people can get hurt and not be able to work.


Follow along with Mikayla’s progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


Sole Education Week 4: Trends of the Trade

Trends of the trade

Innovation and growth are two things that drive most industries.  Without these two driving forces, a company will find itself slowly fading into obscurity.

This week, we asked Mikayla to give us the lowdown on the latest and greatest technology in the Mechanical Engineering field – check out what she had to share:

Trends of the Trade:

A trending topic in my trade right now is the use of new technology such as Augmented and Virtual Reality. Especially in manufacturing, prototyping, a product can be costly and time-consuming.

Throughout the 00’s technology revolution, we have seen the original desktop computer, the laptop mobile computer, then the mobile phone with the same functions as a computer. This has technological investors asking, what’s next?

Augmented and virtual reality will be able to impact the engineering industry in ways we didn’t think possible.

There is a difference between augmented and virtual reality: virtual reality is when you are placed into the virtual space, whereas augmented reality is when virtual objects are placed into your own space.

Many automotive manufacturers like Volvo Trucks have already invested in virtual and augmented reality to visualize full-scale truck models in 3D CAD software.

With this technology, Volvo trucks can examine designs up close without spending the money to prototype them. Volvo Trucks also utilizes virtual reality for truck driving simulations, to find ways to make the driver more comfortable, as well as test the drivability of a truck before it is manufactured.

With augmented reality, engineers can see the part in front of them in their own space. In manufacturing, a technician could use augmented reality to visualize the assembly and disassembly instructions for a piece of equipment, to perform maintenance, just by scanning a simple bar code.

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


Sole Education Week 3: Things You Wish You Knew

Sole Education Week 3: Things You Wish You Knew ( Before You Started)

Hindsight is always 20/20, and we all have situations and events that we would have handled differently if given the chance to do it again. We asked Mikayla to discuss what things she would change if given the option about how she pursued her education. Read on to learn more about Mikayla’s experience!

Things I Wish I Knew (Before I Started)

Mikayla displaying trophies won for 3D Drafting Design and Manufacturing Prototype
Mikayla displaying trophies won for 3D Drafting Design and Manufacturing Prototype. She was involved with a club called the Technology Students Association as a senior in high school.

When I was in high school, I took my first computer-aided drafting course as a freshman. Immediately, I knew I could see myself as a drafter, designer, technician, or in something that involved the advancement of technology.

I did not understand at the time how much it would take to get to the position I am at today. In high school, I was not as study-driven as I am now; I took the basic classes to get by and had low self-confidence in most subjects.

As Senior year rolled by, I realized that I wasn’t ready to transition to a university. Because of this, I decided to live at home and get my Associates degree first, allowing for a much smoother transition into my bachelors.

Thanks to the 3 years I spent getting my associates, I feel like I have matured enough mentally to take the next step into a university.

During the summers I worked as an intern, allowing me to gain real-world experience in the engineering field. If I could start over, I would have followed the path with my career and education; community college allowed me to mature and become more career-driven.

Despite this, I wish I knew how to better prepare myself for the real-world. I wish I knew that having a good GPA and work ethic would only get me so far. Along with these characteristics, making contacts with people already in the field is incredibly important for getting a job interview, a recommendation, or when you need helpful advice.

I did not take advantage of the amount of one-on-one time I had with my teachers at GTCC, so I did not get to talk to them about available internships or ask for advice I may have needed to hear.

Words of Advice:

In engineering, the most important thing you must remember is that you are never the smartest person in the room; there is always someone willing to give you helpful advice or answer a question you may have.


Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


Sole Education Week 2 : Shattering Stigmas

Sole Education Week 2: Shattering Stigmas

At this point, it is safe to say that we are all becoming increasingly aware of the skilled trades shortage that is coming our way. Decades of misrepresentation in pop culture and in high schools, coupled with shop classes being cut from public schools have led us to the skilled labor shortage.

There’s a lot of opportunity for growth and job security within the trades; however, they can carry a variety of stigmas. It’s dirty work. There’s no money to be made. It doesn’t require an education. It’s a male-dominated field.  You name it, we’ve all heard it.

This week, we asked Mikayla to talk about stigmas that she and other students face within her field, and what she is doing to combat them. Every field has them, so let’s learn about what Mikayla has noticed over the course of her education thus far.

As a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Mikayla chose to speak to her experiences as a woman entering the trades. Read on to learn about her experience and what she is doing to shatter the stigma:


Sole Education Week 2: Shattering Stigmas
This is a photo I took with my co-workers from Volvo Trucks. We had just finished a science fair at an elementary school for our Women in Engineering club. We took the day to teach young girls about the fields of science and how they relate back to building trucks.

“As a woman entering the male-dominated field of engineering, I knew I would have to face many stigmas throughout my degree and my career. When I walked into my first engineering class, I noticed I was the only female.

Despite this, I made sure that the men around me treated me no different.
Somehow, I felt a sense of confidence against the stigma of being a woman in engineering; I felt that I had to prove myself more than my male peers. This pushed me to study hard, excel as a leader in group projects, and be more outgoing.


Due to my determination and perseverance, I graduated with my Associates in Engineering Technology at the top of my class. My achievements in school lead to me being offered a mechanical engineering internship at Volvo Trucks North America.

When people see me, they do not believe me when I say I want to be an engineer. This makes me think about the phrase, “shattering the glass ceiling” and wonder if there is any validity to it today.

Personally, I believe that the glass ceiling has not been even cracked. With my degree and career, I hope to help drive the wrecking ball into that glass ceiling for good.

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


Sole Education Week 1: Introduction

Sole Education - Meet the Student

We are thrilled to launch our first-ever Sole Education program! Over the next few months, we will be learning more about our student’s skilled trades program through their experiences and blog entries.

The Sole Education Grant is an industry-based education grant sponsored by Saf-Gard Safety Shoe Company. It is for students who are just starting out in the trades.

Over the next several weeks, we will be working with Mikayla, a rising Mechanical Engineering Technology student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

She will be covering topics related to her industry and hopefully inspire others to learn more about opportunities in the skilled trades as well.

Let’s learn more about her:

“Hey everyone, my name is Mikayla. I grew up in a small town outside of New Haven, CT but moved to Greensboro, NC, with my family in the summer of 2014.Saf-Gard Sole Education Mikayla

I recently received my Associates in Engineering Technology from GTCC, and I will be continuing my education this fall at UNC Charlotte where I plan to earn a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. With my degree, I plan on making a career for myself in Plastics Technology as a Project Engineer.

While at GTCC, I’ve fallen in love with the world of technology and engineering design. I’ve excelled in courses involving math and science and was praised for my leadership skills during group STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities.

Outside of school, I am a Mechanical Engineering Intern for Volvo Trucks North America.  I consider myself hardworking, disciplined, and creative when it comes to my education and future career.”

We can’t wait to learn more about Mechanical Engineering this summer with Mikayla, and see what the summer holds!

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.