NCCET North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies Appalachian State UniversityThe North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies provides facilities for applied research in engineering related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by the University of North Carolina system schools.

Conceived as a community supported higher education effort in technical and engineering disciplines, this Center was established through a collaboration of business, government and higher education organized as the Future Forward Economic Alliance. The Center may collaborate with other schools in bringing the best programs to the region to meet the employment needs.


Our New Director

BOONE—The North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies (NCCET) has hired Michael McNally as its new director. The center’s 55,000 square-foot facility, located in Hickory, provides facilities for applied research in engineering-related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by institutions in the the University of North Carolina system.

The North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies in Hickory, N.C. Photos appear courtesy of the North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies.
McNally replaces Dr. Sid Connor, who retired after leading the NCCET for eight years since its opening in 2008.

The NCCET resulted from a grassroots movement to replace outgoing textile and furniture industry skillsets with fields of study offered at the state universities related to science, technology and engineering. A collaborative effort of representatives from business, government and higher education, including Appalachian State University, established the center to meet the educational needs of area students and the occupational needs of area employers.

For the last decade, McNally has worked in community and economic development. His background includes serving as executive vice president of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior positions include director of existing industry services for the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation and president and CEO of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce. He also served as a part-time instructor for Catawba Valley Community College. McNally earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from East Carolina University.

“I am excited about this opportunity to work for Appalachian State University in leading the NCCET,” McNally said. “This center will work with partner organizations and institutions in an effort to collaboratively meet the ever-evolving needs of our business community. We will provide top-flight facilities to educate and train our future workforce in engineering-related disciplines and we will continue to work with community colleges, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to provide assistance in bringing ideas and innovation to the global marketplace.

“Communities and businesses across the globe are experiencing difficulty in finding a highly trained, 21st century workforce,” McNally explained. “The more educated a region is the more success it will have in growing local businesses and recruiting new businesses. Therefore, it is imperative to offer the training needed to provide our citizens with the best opportunity to obtain these jobs and advance in their careers. The result of this work will be increased wages and a higher standard of living for everyone in the region.”

The western geographical region primarily served by NCCET has a large population and does not house a university offering four-year degrees in engineering or related fields. As a result, McNally said, the center works with institutions to help meet those education needs.

The facility’s laboratories and classrooms allow community college graduates who have earned an associate’s degree to enroll in select courses on a part-time basis. Credit hours earned from those courses can be transferred to one of the four-year institutions where those students can earn degrees.

In addition to educational opportunities for adults, the NCCET hosts summer engineering and robotics campus for elementary and middle school students, which are taught by area school teachers in collaboration with NCCET staff.

“At the center, we can help to be a bit of a catalyst or connector between students, schools and the business community,” said McNally. “We can strengthen that pipeline of students who desire post-secondary training in engineering related fields and ultimately provide area businesses the skilled labor that they need to be successful.”

For more information about the NCCET, visit

Future Engineers Camps for 2016 Summary

Approximately 165 students explored engineering fields by attending the Future Engineers’ Camps held this summer at the North Carolina Center for Engineering Technologies (NCCET) in Hickory.
The four, week-long day camps were held in collaboration with Appalachian State University, N.C. State University, and Catawba Valley Community College. This summer’s camps attracted students from Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Guilford, Hertford, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Mitchell, Rockingham, Union, Yancey, Wake, and Watauga counties in North Carolina, Charleston County in South Carolina, and Camden County in New Jersey.
Students ranging from rising 3rd graders to rising 8th graders were selected to join in the engineering camps and complete activities to gain understanding of the math, science and technology involved in various engineering STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math.
The program is supported in part by a $7,500 gift from the Duke Energy Foundation, a $5,000 gift from USConec, a telecommunications company in Hickory, and other small contributions from local businesses. “Their generous contributions help to provide scholarships to students who couldn’t otherwise afford the opportunity. They continue to help us make a difference in promoting STEM education for students from public, private, and home schools,” said Gina Houston, Future Engineers Camp Manager.
“In addition to providing access to university degree programs in engineering related disciplines, a goal of the NCCET is to encourage the math and science interests of children. We hope that these camps help students realize that fun and rewarding careers are available to them if they continue to pursue educational opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). I think that the growth and success of these camps shows that we are on the right track and that our region will be able to meet the long-term workforce needs of our business community,” said Michael McNally, Director for N.C. Center for Engineering Technologies.
Students in the 2016 Future Engineers’ Campus engaged in activities related to multiple disciplines in engineering including: biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechatronics.

The latest Lego EV3 robots are built and programmed during the Robotics camps designed for students in 7th and 8th grades. During the week, students programmed the robots for Wizard of Oz, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Farm to Fork competitions.

These camps have provided many young men and women with insights into the field of engineering. It is our hope that they begin thinking and preparing early on for the educational requirements to pursue a career in engineering.
Appalachian State University’s, NCCET has been partnering with N.C. State University’s College of Engineering and Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) to offer the week-long day camps since June 2010.
For more information and to view pictures from these camps, please visit
A study is planned for 2017 to learn what post high school education, training and jobs the 2010 campers have pursued. The study will be used to determine the long term impact of the camps on the students’ career decisions.
Information about next year’s camps will be announced at Applications will open approximately Jan. 1, 2017, for the summer 2017 camps.