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Meet John Sharp

Ivy Tech Points Sharp in the Right Direction

Ten years ago, John Sharp started at Ivy Tech for the first time. However, school just wasn’t for him at that point in his life and he entered the manufacturing workforce. Fast forward a decade, and he found himself laid off.

“Through Indiana’s WorkOne, I got the TAA, which is the Trade Adjustment Allowance, and it’s helping me come back to school,” explained Sharp.

The second time at Ivy Tech is the charm because Sharp quickly caught on in his current fields of study, Automation and Robotics and Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration. He’s also folding in Information Technology skills to complement his learning.

“I found something I actually enjoy compared to what I tried before, and thanks to the instructors keeping me motivated,” shared Sharp.

 Faculty and Technology Benefits

Sharp highly recommends a two-year college for anyone coming out of high school or going back to school before they try a four-year college.

“Not only is Ivy Tech more affordable, and with everything transferring today, I think you learn more in a more personal environment like this.”

And Sharp, who tried a four-year state university, knows the differences in environments first-hand.

“You don’t know your faculty there. You don’t know your instructors very well. They don’t know who you are. You’re just a number in a big lecture hall,” shared Sharp. “But here at Ivy Tech, you’re getting a better understanding of what you’re doing, and the instructors have that personal time for you.”

Another difference in the school environments is the hands-on access to technology with smaller classes.

“We have great technology and access to state-of-the-art trainers compared to other schools or universities, and students get that hands-on experience with us,” explained Molly Joseph, Department Chair of Advanced Automation and Robotic Technology, Industrial Technology, Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration, and Welding. “With our smaller classes, you can get more one-on-one time with your instructor, which I think is really helpful.”

Joseph says students can expect to learn theory, but they will be in the labs working with their hands and doing real-world scenarios they’ll encounter in the manufacturing industry.

Many of the real-world scenarios that students like Sharp learn have been lived by Ivy Tech’s faculty including Assistant Professor Richard J. Ravas, Jr., who served as Global Chief Engineer for Electrification at Delphi Technologies before it was acquired by Borg Warner in October 2020.

“For me, it’s really all about giving back to the community,” said Ravas. “It’s about setting the stage for them to improve their lives, increase their wages and opportunities, achieve what we call the American Dream, and move forward in life.” 

Advice for Others at Any Stage

Sharp recommends those who are continuing their education, at any point in their life, to stay committed, find something they enjoy, and keep all the options open.

“Don’t just focus on one area of study. Come in with an idea, but don’t be afraid to explore what other things are available,” suggested Sharp. “It’s just as easy as talking to your advisor and changing what you’re studying. It’s that simple, because so many classes intertwine so easily here.” 

Sharp will be graduating with two associate degrees in three years. His first degree in Automation and Robotics Technology will be completed this fall, and he’ll complete his Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration degree in spring 2024.

According to Joseph, the Department chair, Sharp will likely have a job lined up well before spring graduation.

“Companies want our students, and I get calls all the time,” shared Joseph. “Most of my students get a great-paying job before they graduate.”

Ravas agrees and sees many students already working in apprenticeships with local manufacturers while they’re working toward their degree. As a result, he’ll target the courses and give examples of what students might be experiencing in their particular line of work.

“This certainly gives students an advantage on really what they’re learning and for what reason,” explained Ravas.


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