MARIETTA—You may have seen Washington State Community College’s (WSCC) Student of the Month, Philip Sammons, at area events wowing crowds with his incredible up-close-magic tricks. His academic performance at the college is equally astounding, but there’s no magic involved.
Sammons is studying Advanced Manufacturing and Integration, which is a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering with robotics and control systems. He spends a good deal of his time working in the robotics lab with the FANUC robots. In fact, he’s developed a reputation for being the college’s on-site FANUC expert. The robots, which are notoriously uncooperative, seem to magically respond to his commands when all others fail.
“I don’t know that I would call it magic, but I’d say that it’s not the easiest,” Sammons modestly explained. “They are really complicated and there’s a lot to learn. I’d call it a miracle when you can get them to work properly. If I ever have a time that they don’t have an error when I boot them up, I just call that an act of God,” he joked.
This summer, he’s honing his skills with his internship with some Ohio University professors who are creating a digital twin of the CSM (Connected Smart Manufacturing) assembly in the WSCC robotics lab. “I’m loving the experience, but I have to admit, there is a huge gap in knowledge between me and the team I’m working with, as they all have PhDs,” Sammons acknowledged. “So, having to constantly play ‘catch up,’ so to speak, can be really difficult and even frustrating at times. I’m just really giving it my best attempts to understand, and research what they talk about.”
His work ethic isn’t something he simply pulled out of his hat just for his internship. It’s part of what makes him a standout student at Washington State. “Philip always strives for excellence in class,” said WSCC Dean of Business and Engineering George Bilokonsky. “He constantly asks questions to go beyond the scope of the course and pursues further learning. He regularly stays after class or comes in on his own time to experiment with equipment or learn supplementary advanced material. He’s someone I can always count on for additional support and I know he will do what’s necessary to complete the task at hand.”
While illusion is his hobby, 21-year-old Sammons may unknowingly also be a sage, as he offered words of wisdom to others considering a similar path to his. “Don’t be scared to just try something new,” encouraged Sammons. “Everyone always freaks out that they have to know what they are doing, and have some huge plan. Most people at Washington State are still high schoolers, or barely hitting age 20. You have all that time left, and while I understand wanting to cherish every moment, (as you could not be here at a moment’s notice) it’s important to understand you have anywhere between 60 to 80 years left in your lifespan to become the ‘you’ that you want to be.”
Sammons expects to graduate next spring with his associate degree and is currently contemplating his future plans. He’s weighing his options of going directly into the workforce, pursuing a bachelor’s degree, or possibly a combination of the two.