For 25 years, Chris Burris has been in and out of classrooms teaching the next generation of designers, drafters and architects.
He’s now brought his experience to OSU Institute of Technology as the newest instructor in the School of Engineering Technologies’ Engineering Graphics & Design/Drafting program.
Burris started this summer and hit the ground running now teaching five courses at OSUIT this fall.
“I’m liking it. It’s a nice open environment, and the program has lots of room to expand and grow,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential. Potential is always a good thing.”
Burris, who grew up in Newcastle just south of Oklahoma City, started teaching at Oklahoma City Community College while also working on building projects for the school.
He took his teaching and engineering talents to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Pittsburg State University in Kansas and Metro Technology Centers in Oklahoma City.
“The best part is when you see the students pick up on something,” he said. “At Metro Tech, I was primarily teaching inner city kids. It was good to see them improve themselves. I hoped what I was teaching them could mean the difference between working a minimum wage job or starting their careers.”
Burris became familiar with OSUIT after bringing his students to SkillsUSA competitions held on the Okmulgee campus and liked the teaching model he found here.
“It’s a technical school, it’s all about hands-on learning. My philosophy has always been learn by doing and this school buys into that philosophy,” he said.
And in the design and drafting field, like other areas of manufacturing and engineering, there’s a big demand for highly skilled and trained technicians.
“There’s a huge demand for pipe drafters because we are in the heart of the oil and gas industry. There’s demand for mechanical drafters, architectural drafters,” he said, and technology has changed the manufacturing industry. “There’s no middle men anymore. It goes straight from the drafting computer to the machines.”
And design and drafting offers a variety of career paths.
“It’s a very creative field. The things you can do in civil engineering or mechanical engineering. Everything we see was first created by someone in the design and drafting field, even our shoes and our clothing,” Burris said. “Everything is done in a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) system before it gets to a manufacturing floor.”
Now that he’s at OSUIT, Burris hopes he can help build the program.
“I’m trying to get a bigger social media presence. I’d like to get more equipment and upgrades like another 3D printer and more computers in the classroom,” he said. “A big thing I’m working on is getting a CAD class online. Being a hands-on field, it’s tough to do but it will happen.”