SE-Tech alum Jeremiah "Jay" Kropidlowski displays a project produced by the college's 3D printing equipment, which makes models based on drafting designs.
Like many college students, Jeremiah “Jay” Kropidlowski’s career path took several turns before he finally found the right fit in Southeast Technical’s Computer Aided Design (CAD) program. For Jay, finding that perfect fit was the culmination of several life experiences, plus a result of discovering a talent for design and drawing.
Learning "how things work"
With a grandfather, father, and brother who all worked in construction, Jay became curious at a young age about how things are assembled and work. After graduating from high school, Jay, a native Winonan, followed the traditional path to a four-year college, completed several general education courses, and then decided to enlist in the Air Force Reserves to help further finance his education. Jay enlisted shortly before 9/11, but was located state-side during his tour as a military aircraft mechanic, a position that helped him continue developing his mechanical aptitude.
Finding the creative spark
Jay returned to school in Milwaukee after completing his tour, and through a chance encounter, realized he didn’t just have mechanical know-how; he also had the ability and desire to create. An acquaintance, who happened to be blind, asked Jay to help draft house plans. The experience of envisioning a design and transforming it into a functioning plan was both challenging and rewarding. He soon began evaluating CAD programs and, with a strong program in his hometown, transferred to Southeast Technical in Winona. Jay even entered the CAD program at the same time as his younger brother Gus, who is 10 years his junior, and both enjoyed having this shared experience.
Getting the skills, exposure to technology at Southeast Technical
As part of his coursework in the Computer Aided Design (CAD) Drafting Technologies A.A.S. degree program, Jay received training in drafting fundamentals, best-practices, and industry-standard software, including the latest version of Solid Works for 3D designing. Jay also enrolled at Southeast Tech right when the college obtained state-of-the-art Z-Corp 3D printing equipment. The hands-on skills Jay acquired at Southeast Tech plus exposure to the latest technology helped him land an internship with Winona Lighting, a local commercial lighting fixture manufacturer, where Jay helped design intricate lighting fixtures featured in buildings across the country. Winona Lighting was so impressed with their intern’s work that Jay was offered a full-time job before he even graduated!
Jay completed his degree this spring and is excited about his new career. Jim Ziegler, Jay’s instructor in Southeast Tech’s CAD program, attributes Jay’s success to his character and innate talent. “Jay was a very engaged and energetic and interesting person. He brought integrity and abilities with him to our program and it was my pleasure to help him harness them and use them to procure a good job.”