A “Long Run” in Mechanical Design: Randy Siron
When Randy Siron dons his cap and gown for Blue Ridge Community College’s commencement in May, it will mark an accomplishment seven years in the making. Gradual but steady progress towards an A.A.S. in Mechanical Design Technology was key for this honor student.
As a long-time employee of Daikin Applied Americas Inc. in Verona, Randy had worked his way up from hourly employment on the assembly line and performance testing to salaried positions in the engineering research and development labs. That’s when his wife encouraged him to take advantage of the educational benefits the company offered to pursue a BRCC degree. He passed the 30-year mark with the company in early February, and has been a designer in the engineering department for nine months.
Randy Siron (right) with manager Phillip Rosen (left)
“We are very pleased with Randy’s work,” says Philip Rosen, engineering manager at Daikin. “He has been a valued employee for many years, and a great mentor to others.”
Sometimes, the Waynesboro, Virginia native was able to take only one or two classes a semester while working full-time and raising a family. “I always pushed myself,” he says. “There were many times when I thought it was too hard, but my wife kept telling me, ‘you can’t quit. You have to be a role model.’”
In the midst of his Blue Ridge coursework, Randy set his mind on yet another lifelong goal. After losing a sibling to complications from diabetes, Randy decided he wanted to improve his health by running. But he would not be satisfied with jogging around the block. He gave up sugary soft drinks and dropped 30 pounds while training to run marathons. “I always wanted to run marathons,” he said. “I wasn’t very athletic growing up, but I always thought it would be neat to run 26 miles!”
The support of family was crucial to Randy’s success. His wife provided “gentle prodding.” A little friendly competition with two of his sons, also in mechanical design technology, was another great motivator. Oldest son Caleb graduated from BRCC and works in design/project management at Innovative Refrigeration in Lyndhurst. Middle son Jacob is on track to finish in May and be able to walk at graduation alongside his father. He is also interning at Daikin.
Randy (center) with sons Caleb (left) and Jacob (right)
“I remember I was in a metallurgy class with Caleb, and we had to have a certain average in order to be exempt from the exam,” he recalls. “I worked hard and made sure I was exempt!”
To other Blue Ridge students who may be on a slower path to a degree than they would like, Randy has this advice: Persevere.
“Don’t get discouraged. The end will come, and the payoff will be worth it. Just keep plugging away,” he urges. “Find an advisor who really knows the program you’re in,” Randy notes. “That way you can focus on the classes you really need and not waste time or money.”