CYPRESS — Let go from her retail job of nearly 10 years due to the pandemic, Katherine Klopp not only began a new career path in machining at Lone Star College-Cypress Center, but received a $1,000 scholarship to financially help toward reaching her dream job – building bicycles.
Why bicycles and why a machinist? Klopp’s explanation is simple: joy and stability.
Klopp enjoys working with her hands and making things. The creative and problem-solving skills required to efficiently machine parts, she finds enjoyable. Her love for riding a bike as child became a distant memory as she got older and busier. A new love, running, came with a lot of injuries. However, she took up riding a bike again to cross train, stay in shape and avoid injury. When COVID hit, bicycles became scarce, especially parts, many of which were made overseas.
“There are quite a few American companies that are making names for themselves manufacturing a variety of parts for bikes. If I get the chance to make parts for something I enjoy doing, that would be amazing,” Klopp said. “So now I’m just trying to work toward an actual career with stability that I’d think I’d enjoy.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas has the third highest employment level for machinists with 28,590 machinists (of the 383,000 nationwide) and an annual median wage of $46,420.
This nontraditional student admits being nervous about returning to school last semester to study in a field she had no experience with and that is typically a male-dominated field. However, she found the courage to not put limits on what she can do through the support of family, her professor and fellow students.
“The only person who gets in the way of success is oneself, and I will not stand in my own way,” said Klopp. “Machining is a field that you need to know what you’re doing, doesn’t matter your gender. You’ve either got the skills, or you don’t.”
Klopp is developing her new skills as she works to finish a Machinist Level 1 certification this May and earn the CNC Level 1 certification in fall 2021. She is one of five spring 2021 scholarship recipients among the nearly a dozen machining students already awarded scholarships from the inaugural 2019 Gene Haas Foundation grant funds.
“We are very excited and honored to have recently received another $12,500 in Gene Haas Foundation grant funds,” said LSC-Cypress Center Dean Bridgette Sellers. “This will allow us an opportunity to assist our future machinists in continuing their educational studies while pursuing their own careers.”
Helping more than 23,000 students reach their academic and career goals, Lone Star College-CyFair is the fifth comprehensive college in the Lone Star College System, located at 9191 Barker Cypress Road just 3 miles south of U.S. Highway 290. Start close and go far at LSC-CyFair as well as at LSC-Cypress Center, located at 19710 Clay Road and LSC-Westway Park Technology Center, located at 5060 Westway Park Boulevard. For more information about LSC-CyFair and its programs, call 281.290.3200 or visit LoneStar.edu/cyfair.
Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 93,000+ students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of nearly $3 billion. LSC consists of seven colleges, 10 centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.