by J. Eric Eckard

When Kaitlyn Tripp was about three years old, she would sit in her dad’s lap and watch him work on computers and other machines.

Those days started a lifelong love of electronics and an insatiable curiosity of the mechanisms’ inner workings.

“I love to take things apart and see how they work,” says Tripp.

As a kid, she would disassemble her toys and try to reassemble them. As she got older, she started working on remote controls, an old cash register, and printers.

By the time she made it to high school, Tripp says she knew she wanted to work in the electronics field.

During her senior year at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, Tripp had taken all the high school electronics classes available, so she decided to go for it.

She took Edgecombe Community College courses in electronics, earning a certificate in Electrical Systems Technology.

This fall, Tripp will enter her second year in the Manufacturing Technology degree program at ECC. She has already earned a second certificate in Electrical Systems Technology. And, she is an intern at Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant.

A national champion, she took home top honors at the SkillsUSA competition in June 2017 for her work on a high altitude balloon project at the College.

As the project’s co-leader in 2017, Tripp worked primarily on programming and soldering.

In the statewide contest, ECC won three of the top five awards: Best Flight Readiness Briefing, Best Payload, and Best Overall Team.

From there, students entered the balloon project in the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville in June 2017, winning first place. “It was awesome,” Tripp says.  “I was really shy and insecure, and we had to give an oral presentation in front of a group. I was so nervous, but I did it.”

She says her experiences at Edgecombe Community College have instilled in her confidence and self-reliance – qualities she says she lacked just a few years ago.

“I wanted to do more – I didn’t want to be in the background,” she explains. “Being at Edgecombe Community College has enabled me to grow and become more independent and mature.”

“I love it here,” she adds. “It’s the best place I’ve ever been.”