“WPCC Career Prep Better Than 4-Yr. Degree”


WPCC KellyYelton 022614 fnMorganton, NC—As a surveying intern, Kelly Yelton spends his career outdoors, and that suits him just fine.  “I love being outdoors and enjoying the four seasons,” he said.  “It’s been my dream to advance in my career while being outside.”  He works as an inspector/surveyor for the Department of Transportation at the engineering firm RKK in Hendersonville.

Kelly had an established career as a truck driver and equipment operator until a job lay-off in April 2009.  With an interest and prior education in civil engineering, he learned of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which encouraged local businesses to participate in the local delivery of Workforce Development Services.  Wishing to enter a civil engineering program, Kelly came to Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) where WIA could help him.

At WPCC, he found programs of study where his gift in math could be a tremendous benefit as he pursued associate degrees in Civil Engineering Technology and Surveying Technology (now called Geomatics Technology).  “When I left WPCC with my degrees, I was ready for my new career in surveying.  My instructors prepared me with ‘on-hands’ training including many sessions of surveying on the campus.  In fact, I was much better prepared than my co-workers who had completed four-year degrees.  They had the textbook education, but no field training that equipped them to go right to work in their new jobs.”

Kelly found camaraderie in his WPCC classes that helped him along the way.  “I worked in study groups in the library with my program buddies,” he explained.  “At first there were only four of us, but our group grew to about 10 guys of all ages—students from Burke Middle College to those in their 50’s.  We found when we studied together, our strengths and weaknesses balanced out our understanding so we could successfully progress in our programs.”

Donald Queen, WPCC Engineering Technology Coordinator, recognized Yelton’s abilities.  “I found him to be a dedicated student who wanted to learn how to do things the right way,” he said.  “Kelly gave his classes the required time and was always eager and willing to learn and to try new things.  He took the lead in many of our hands-on lab exercises and led by example in his demeanor and his attitude in his classes.”

With about a year to go on his four-year surveying internship, Kelly is eligible to gain his Professional Land Surveying (PLS) credential in 2015.  In Kelly’s words, his WPCC degrees “have provided so many avenues for me in my career.  I guess you could say that I came in with my career on a two-lane road and now I am on a six-lane interstate!  At WPCC, I found a new direction in my life.”

WPCC’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Geomatics Technology prepares students to use mathematical and scientific principles for the delineation, determination, planning and positioning of land tracts, boundaries, contours and features applying principles of route surveying, construction surveying, photogrammetry, mapping, global positioning systems, geographical information systems, and other kinds of property description and measurement to create related maps, charts and reports. Graduates should qualify for jobs as survey party chief, instrument person, surveying technician, highway surveyor, mapper, GPS technician, and CAD operator. Graduates will be prepared to pursue the requirements necessary to become an PLS in North Carolina. For more information on the program, contact Queen at 828-448-3556 or dqueen@wpcc.edu.            To apply for curriculum classes, visit www.wpcc.edu and select Enroll Now!


Western Piedmont Community College is situated in the picturesque rolling foothills of Morganton, North Carolina and has served the citizens of Burke County since 1964.  Each year, more than 10,700 students pursue personal enrichment, new skills for a job or career, high school diplomas, college degrees, and transfer pathways. The Summer Semester application due date for new students is Friday, April 18. Apply online at www.wpcc.edu or visit the Western Piedmont Campus to apply in person.