Building Alliances: Luis Miguel Rangel Wells, BRCC Class of 2011

Wed Jun 28, 2017 at 05:18 PM

Luis Miguel Rangel WellsAs he neared the end of his Blue Ridge journey in 2011, mechanical design technology graduate Luis Miguel Rangel Wells started putting into practice one of his favorite sayings: “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.”

When he noticed a number of business cards on a bulletin board belonging to Assistant Professor Jonathan Brumfield, he took a picture of them on his phone and started contacting the businesses to introduce himself. He eventually landed an interview and secured a job at Arconic/Kawneer that way.

“I like to say that I build alliances with people,” Miguel notes. “If you make them aware of your goals, they want to help you. Believe that you’re capable and others will, too. Don’t be afraid to approach people.”

Miguel conveyed this lesson recently, along with many others, to the Harrisonburg High School Class of 2017 as keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony. He made the decision to attend Blue Ridge just a couple weeks before he graduated from HHS in 2009. A substantial scholarship package was a motivating factor, and Miguel believes that the quality of instruction at BRCC prepared him well for transferring to Old Dominion University’s distance learning program, where he will complete a mechanical engineering technology degree in August, without having to leave the area, or incur a mountain of debt.

“The instruction was rigorous and meticulous,” he says. “What you turn in as your final product is really important.” He found professors were very willing to share knowledge gained from working in industry and to “impart bits of wisdom that go beyond the scope of teaching.” For his senior ODU project, he is collaborating with BRCC Assistant Professor Bob Zickefoose on a lift for a wind turbine.

Miguel’s interests in drawing and design began around age 13. His step-father, a precision machinist, encouraged those skills, even securing a powerful computer that could run an AutoCAD program for him. Although he found his passion early on, his academic road had its share of bumps. He took time off before transferring to obtain his US citizenship. He failed some classes but persisted anyway.

“I learned how to study, to be better organized to make things at ODU go more smoothly,” Miguel says. “Don’t be afraid to fail. That’s part of the process. You have to continue to build a strong sense of self.”