Milford student thrives in NDT program

Zoe Urtel is a veteran, having served as a military police officer in the Nebraska Army National Guard. Since then, the Crete native has had a number of odd jobs that haven’t brought her any job satisfaction. As a result, she decided to enroll at Southeast Community College in the Nondestructive Testing Technology program. Having known nothing about the program, it was introduced to her by a peer advisor.

“We discussed my goals, the things that motivated me, and the type of work I wanted to get into,” she said. “He was the one that brought nondestructive testing in the mix. I had never heard of the industry, and after I delved into it, I decided to move forward in registering for college and completing a degree in the program.”

Once she found out more about the program, she realized it fit a lot of her strengths such as attention to detail, organizational skills and a challenging work environment. It wasn’t until Urtel found this program that it fulfilled her drive and enthusiasm to learn.

“Nondestructive testing has a plethora of examination methods, so there is always something new to learn and greater opportunity for growth within any given method,” she said.

One of her instructors, Bill Wiley, said she’s a good fit for the program because she is a very conscientious student who strives for perfection.

“She has an eye for detail and fosters a mentoring attitude for those students that aren’t as far along in the program,” he said. “She takes her studies very seriously and has the good grades to show it.”

Like many of the manufacturing programs, NDT tends to be male dominated. Urtel said that regardless, women should still consider the profession and show they can do anything men can do when they put their mind to it.

“If the knowledge and understanding is there and the work is completed in a timely, successful manner, it shouldn’t matter if it was done by a man or a woman,” she said. “I enjoy working with my hands, and a trade program meets that need for me. I’m not one to back down from a challenge just because I’m a woman. In fact, it just drives me more to prove wrong the ones that doubt me.”

Wiley said there are many potential careers to consider in the industry, including jobs in the energy sector as well as aircraft and aerospace, along with a large demand for graduates in individual testing lab companies across the nation. Urtel will graduate in December and hopes to someday train prospective technicians.

“This program is a phenomenal one, and nondestructive testing isn’t offered everywhere,” she said. “The time we are given to work directly with actual instrumentation that is used in the industry in tandem with learning about the processes from experienced instructors is invaluable.”

For more information on the NDT program at SCC, click on this link:


Andrea Gallagher
Communications Specialist