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NC State Engineering Online Helped Air Force Captain Achieve Lifelong Goal

As an active-duty service member, Brian Vickers was interested in continuing his education but knew it would have to be through online and distance education.

Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Vickers now lives in Port Hueneme, California. A captain in the United States Air Force, Vickers is an exchange civil engineering office with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four, which is part of the U.S. Navy Seabees located in Ventura County.

Vickers was interested in earning his Master of Civil Engineering degree from NC State’s College of Engineering. While researching his education options, Vickers was excited to find NC State’s Master of Civil Engineering program provided flexibility to fit his busy schedule.

“The flexibility of the online program and the continual efforts by the faculty to work with my demanding schedule was a key factor in me choosing NC State,” Vickers said. “The online program was the perfect fit that allowed me to complete my master’s degree while continuing to serve all over the world.”

Vickers started his Engineering Online experience while deployed in Qatar. Five years later, Vickers earned his Master of Civil Engineering degree in May 2016.

“I knew that I would need to be able to complete the degree while serving all over the world but I had no idea how many places the next five years would take me,” Vickers mentioned.

Brian Vickers

Brian Vickers

After Qatar, Vickers was stationed in South Carolina, South Korea, England, Ethiopia, California and Japan, where he actually completed his degree.

“It was challenging balancing demanding military requirements and taking master’s-level classes, but generally my professors were accommodating to any major scheduling conflicts I had or major moves/deployments that came up,” Vickers said.

His favorite online course was Professor Ed Jaselskis’ International Construction Course. The course was simultaneously held in the U.S., Canada, India, China and Taiwan, allowing students and professors all over the world to present their perspectives on construction and project management.

“The group projects were an amazing opportunity to connect with civil engineering students from around the world and to learn their approaches to construction project management. Having been a part of projects all over the world myself, this was a fascinating chance to expand my international network and gain exposure to vastly different approaches to engineering,” Vickers said. He added that he gained a wealth of knowledge about the civil engineering industry, including insight and connections to start his own online engineering services business.

“Becoming an entrepreneur had always been a lifelong goal of mine and I look forward to growing my business to the point where I can do it full time,” Vickers said.

Vickers earned his degree while deployed and was unable to participate in the spring commencement ceremony, so the department allowed him to walk in December 2016.

Vickers said he’s recommended NC State’s Engineering Online programs to a few other services members due to the flexibility it allows.

“The online program makes such incredible use of technology that no amount of distance or international borders can keep people from achieving their educational goals,” he said. “There are sacrifices with every effort in life, but NC State’s online program has removed countless traditional barriers to education that make earning a degree completely reasonable.”     

To learn more about online and distance education opportunities at NC State, please visit the NC State Online and Distance Education website.