Update: Pierson emailed to let SME know that his California State Fair drill speeder project took 1st Place, Best of Division and Best of Class.
When high-schooler Troy Pierson completes his engineering degree in four years or so, he may be one of few in his class who’s not sending out resumes and scheduling interviews.
Pierson, 18, of Mission Viejo, CA, has had a job in his field since June 2015. He’s also already been promoted—from summer intern to trainee in the Pilot Metals department at Applied Medical (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), a firm that designs and manufactures devices for minimally invasive surgery and other clinical specialties.
“I always had an interest in building and making things, and I was always at the top of my class in math and science,” Pierson said. “With so many kids nowadays earning degrees with no guarantee of a career I wanted to give myself the best chance at starting a career out of college.”
Pierson already has a bullet on his resume for saving Applied Medical money. He did it by suggesting a bunk bed-style arrangement for some CNC milling machines, which freed up space on the shop floor worth about $50,000.
In the meantime, Pierson is focused on graduating from Trabuco Hills High School (also Mission Viejo) and a project he and a fellow student will enter in the California State Fair’s (Sacramento) Industrial and Technology Education portion of its Student Showcase.
For their State Fair project this year, the pair designed, engineered and 3D printed a drill speeder, along with a stand for the device and a box, to showcase their skills in AutoCAD, SolidWorks, additive manufacturing and CNC milling. Pierson estimates they’ll have spent up to 2000 hours on the project before submitting it to fair judges. Pierson and his partner will find out in July if they’ve won their hoped-for best of show.
“The time that he puts into his projects is remarkable due to his 20–25-hour-a-week job and all of his advanced placement classes, which have earned him the Presidential Scholar award [scholarship] to The University of Alabama,” wrote his nominator and engineering drafting teacher Frederick Kendell.
Pierson has participated in local and state fair competitions for various AutoCAD, Solidworks and 3D-printed model projects throughout high school; he was once State Champion and twice a runner up.
He also earned accolades from professors he worked with at the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science, a month-long engineering camp that accepts 200 students each year. He spent a month living at and using the facilities of the University of California, San Diego, where he studied civil engineering. Pierson’s final research work focused on base isolation and was voted best project by his professors.
“His work habits and determination have overcome obstacles in his individual projects as not all projects turn out correct the first time,” wrote Kendell. “He embraces the fact that failure is just a stepping stone to success.”
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 2016 30 Under 30 Profiles as a PDF.