Chattin maintains the equipment and prepares for emergency breakdowns in the Suffolk building, the second largest building in Virginia to the Pentagon.
“From day one, I’ve been doing what I’m training to do,” he said. “I enjoy the hands-on work. And no day is the same. One day I’ll be wiring something, the next welding, and the next building something from scratch.”
Chattin never planned to attend college. He initially worked as an apprentice, providing audio visual support for Virginia Beach Public Schools and worked as a technician for a lighting company.
Rebuilding cars alongside his grandfather piqued his interest in mechanics. While he had the technical know-how, Chattin needed the industrial expertise only a college education could provide. He chose TCC because it was affordable and his mother, Susan Chattin, is an alumna.
As a student working toward his Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics, he gained the industry terminology and can now handily search manuals and databases for resources when repairing systems. The program combines electricity, electronics, robotics, mechanics, instrumental process control and industrial automation and allows graduates to excel in fast-paced work environments.
Chattin credits TCC faculty Thomas Stout and Jeffrey DeCastillia with paving the way for his success, noting they teach from experience and connect well with students.
“I can speak the language – anything from pneumatics, hydraulics, blueprint reading and robotics,” he said. “This field is ever-changing, and you definitely have to keep learning.”
Newly married, Chattin says his wife, Sarah Chattin, working toward her Associate of Science in Business Administration, encouraged him to pursue higher education and even filled out his FAFSA to help pay for college. Both will graduate from TCC in 2017.
Chattin hopes to work his way up to high-level mechanic or systems engineer. Sarah, employed full-time at Dollar Tree, hopes to continue advancing in management there.
“I tell everyone don’t let opportunities pass you by,” he said. “Keep trying and definitely aim high. If you put in the work, you can be successful in school.”