Millwright finds new career after returning to school

Grant Nixon ’20 combined years of field experience with new techniques learned at Mohawk College to embrace new industry technologies.

By Calum Smethurst - Journalism Student

Despite a few curveballs throughout his career, Grant Nixon ’20 found a new start through Mohawk College. An injury sustained during his 13-year career as a millwright and assembly specialist brought him back to school to find his future.

“I was involved in an accident and deemed physically unable to return to my previous career,” he said. “As part of my recovery, I was able to come back to school and enroll in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. This program interested me as it involves a lot of the same types of things [as my previous career]. [I knew] it would be less demanding physically, and would give me a greater knowledge of the theory behind the things I was [used to] doing.”

Grant found that the involved and experience-based learning of his program worked better for him over a traditional classroom setting.

“I enjoyed the hands-on, applied aspect of this program,” he said. “It was great doing courses such as CNC and robotics programming and metallurgy courses where we did lab work in a government materials facility.”

Grant was able to combine his curriculum with his co-op position at the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMIC), part of IDEAWORKS at Mohawk, which allowed him to showcase what he had learned in a realworld setting.

“My capstone project was a project that we were working on at AMIC,” he said. “We were designing and printing die blades in tool steel and testing different coatings for a company that does metal clinching. I tested these blades on-site and learned a great deal about proper report writing, testing practices, and developing relationships in the industry.”

Using what he learned in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program and the resources available at AMIC, Grant found the most economically viable combination of metals and coatings to use for metal clinching were tool-grade steel and a multilayer coating.

Grant’s time at Mohawk gave him the opportunity to learn more about the field he had worked in for over a decade and start a new career at the college.

“I’m now the research technologist at AMIC, which is the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre,” he said. “My job is to operate and maintain all our machines and train co-op students on their use as well. I was hired as a co-op student and after I graduated, I moved into a full-time role.”

Grant has been working at Mohawk College since 2018 and graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2020. His time at Mohawk, brought about by an injury that forced him to reconsider his future options, led him to a new career path through the college itself.