Creating a community of opportunities
Near the waterfront of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC, students prepare for a wide variety of career paths at Cape Fear Community College. “Our two-year AAS degree provides training to students who wish to work in fields related to the laboratory sciences,” says Tracy Holbrook, program director of chemical technology at Cape Fear Community College. “Graduates find themselves working for pharmaceutical, environmental, forensics, cosmetics, food and beverage, quality control, production, and manufacturing companies.” The potential jobs for Cape Fear’s chemical-technology graduates include laboratory technicians, entry-level chemists, metrologists, sales representatives, quality-control reviewers, and many other roles. As Holbrook says, “As the program director, it is my responsibility to ensure that the program stays in constant contact with employers and ensure that we adapt and change our curriculum, as needed, to meet their needs.”
When asked what makes Holbrook proud of the department, he says, “I am especially proud of our graduates.” He adds, “They take pride in the education and training that they have received and represent the program, our faculty, and the college exceptionally well.” In fact, as the only chemical technology program in North Carolina, Holbrook says, “it’s not uncommon for our graduates to be selected for job opportunities over BS chemistry candidates.”
Part of the appeal of Cape Fear’s chemical-technology graduates comes from their training on a variety of instruments. “While theory is important to our program, we place a focus on hands-on activities blended with real-world scenarios,” Holbrook explains. “Students prepare their own samples, use analytical instrumentation and software to process their samples, and perform all data analysis themselves.” The instrument training covers a range of techniques: HS-GC-FID, GC-TCD, GCMS, FTIR, HPLC, IC, TLC, UV/Vis, AA/AE, TOC, KF titrators, automated polarimeters, density meters, refractometers, and many other techniques, such as Kjeldahl, Soxhlet, Monier-Williams, and fractionation.