Iraq War veteran has new Oklahoma career in machining

Moore Norman Technology Center's Precision Machining program has no trouble finding jobs for graduates.
BY DEBRA LEVY MARTINELLI Published: January 26, 2013
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— Steve Dwyer has always been a hands-on kind of guy.

As a child in Meeker, he repaired equipment on the family farm.

As a soldier in Iraq, he drove a tank as part of a unit protecting Baghdad.

Even after a rocket explosion hit his tank and blew the 350-pound hatch onto him — folding him in half and breaking his neck in three places — Dwyer's love of working with machines didn't waver.

Trouble was, when he returned to the United States, there wasn't a big demand for tank drivers. So Dwyer used the GI Bill to enroll in Moore Norman Technology Center's Precision Machining program, which he completed in the spring of 2012.

“Steve is creative, mechanically minded and a good problem solver,” said precision machining instructor Tracy Jones. “He doesn't just want to know the answer; he wants to know how to get there and how the answer might change in the future.”

With about a half semester left to complete, Dwyer received a phone call from Jones, who asked him to participate in a districtwide machining competition two days later.

“I didn't practice at all, but out of 30 guys I took second place and got to go to the state finals in Tulsa,” Dwyer said.

He captured first prize at state and moved on to the national competition in Kansas City. In a field of 56, he placed 18th.

“I was the only representative of an Oklahoma CareerTech school and competed against guys who had been machining for four to five years,” he says. “The experience was solid gold for my resume.”

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If you want to learn, your instructor will teach you everything you want to know. ... The training you will get is too good an experience to squander.”

Steve Dwyer,

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