NDSU graduate uses hands-on education to succeed at Appareo
Published May 2016
Waylon Thomas is constantly moving. The NDSU graduate and product engineer at Appareo in Fargo is on the manufacturing floor, hustling from place-to-place, testing, inspecting, walking.
It’s the type of active job he’s always wanted. And his NDSU education helped to get him here.
Thomas is just one example of NDSU graduates who live and work in the area. He transferred from Bismarck State College to study industrial engineering and management. An internship led to his first full-time job in West Fargo, and he’s now performing many of the duties he learned through hands-on experiences at NDSU.
“I came to NDSU partly because Fargo is the city that it is,” said Thomas, originally from Minot, North Dakota. “I knew Fargo had the most manufacturing opportunities for engineering students after graduation. There are a lot of companies here, NDSU has a great job placement rate and I knew I didn’t want to leave the state.”
Thomas began his career with a small North Dakota company that makes window and door frames. He’s now deeply immersed in the world of technology at Appareo, which designs and manufactures electronics for use in aviation, agriculture and construction.
A campus community partner with NDSU, Appareo’s offices are located in the university’s Research and Technology Park. It’s just a few blocks away from where Thomas learned his craft.
“Appareo’s location in the Research and Technology Park is great for access to students, as well as student familiarity with our business,” said David Batcheller, the company’s president and chief operating officer. “We believe we have been a good partner to the university and a good partner to the research park. We endeavor to build on these partnerships as we continue to expand our facilities in the park and hire more NDSU graduates.”
Thomas’s job as a product engineer involves finding ways to improve manufacturing processes and efficiencies, while helping to cut costs. He constantly asks questions about why processes are performed and how they can be improved.
Thomas credits his senior project at NDSU for preparing him for his current position.
“We went to manufacturing facilities, helped evaluate some of their bottlenecks and came up things they could do to clean up their processes,” he said. “It’s exactly what I’m doing now. And I was doing it before I even graduated from NDSU.”