$15 million in grants & scholarships available this year for those who qualify10


From Watching YouTube to Working at Caterpillar: NASCAR Tech CNC Grad Samuel Robinson

Jul 13, 2022 ·

Step 1 of  
What kind of training are you interested in? Required
Change program to see other campuses.

Most of us can relate to the experience of browsing through videos on YouTube and clicking on their recommendations from time to time.

For Samuel Robinson, a graduate of UTI’s CNC Machining Technology program taught at NASCAR Tech, it was one of these recommendations that led him to train for a career in the industry. When he was looking at videos related to his other interests, the algorithm recommended various manufacturing videos that introduced him to possibilities of a career as a computer numerical control (CNC) machinist.

It just advanced from there. “It grabbed my interest and made me think, ‘Yeah, I want to do that!’ ” he says. Keep reading to learn more about his experience in the program at NASCAR Tech and where he is today!

Heading to North Carolina

Samuel hadn’t heard of CNC machining until diving into videos on YouTube. In fact, he didn’t gain a full understanding of the process until a recruiter from NASCAR Tech visited his high school to discuss the CNC program in detail.

CNC machines are precision tools that perform a variety of tasks, including grinding, shaping and cutting metals and other materials. CNC machines can include lathes, grinders or mills combined with computer systems operated by trained machinists.

Machinists are trained to use these machines and computers to load programs and help produce durable components.

It’s a job that is very hands-on and technical. Samuel said he has always been someone who enjoyed working with his hands, and initially was looking into going to school for collision repair but had a change of heart.

After taking multiple tours of NASCAR Tech, he made the decision to enroll in the CNC program and made the move from Salem, Virginia, to Mooresville, North Carolina. Fortunately, it wasn’t too far of a move (just about a three-hour drive) and finding a place was easy, thanks to the help of NASCAR Tech’s Housing Services.

Gaining Experience for the Industry

Samuel started his CNC program in 2020 while the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. However, it didn’t have too much of an impact on his training.

“I wish the food bar was open,” he laughs. “It felt like normal (though). I just had to wear a mask and keep my distance from everyone.”

Samuel was excited to be at school and had a lot of fun in the program. “My teachers and classmates were awesome,” he says. “There wasn’t a day I didn’t want to be there. I woke up early and wanted to be there as soon as possible.”

He says his favorite classes in the program were related to learning the manual machines. From manual machining basics to working with lathes and mills, he said the machines were a lot of fun. During his time at NASCAR Tech, he worked part-time at Walmart and was able to balance his job alongside schoolwork.

When he was close to graduating, he felt great about the job outlook. “My education definitely prepared me for the industry. I was able to use Career Services to look for a job and they helped me get my first job at Integer,” he says.1

Transitioning to the Workforce

Samuel started his first job soon after graduating from NASCAR Tech. He went through the interview process when he was still a student wrapping up his final courses in the CNC program. He received an offer, moved back to Salem after graduation and started working two weeks later.

Samuel says he went into his job at Integer knowing a lot more than what they were expecting, thanks to his training at NASCAR Tech. In this role, he worked in the cardiology department making ablation tips used to help restore normal heart rhythm. He operated Swiss lathes to create the tiny parts.

“It took a little extra training when I got there. Everything we worked on was micromachining and making really small parts. Every little thing I did mattered,” he says. “I would make 100 parts, replace the drill and make another 100. If the drill would pop or explode, I would fix it or replace it.”

Samuel was with Integer for around seven months before transitioning to a job at Caterpillar as a machinist. In his current role, he’s working with manual machines. These include mills, lathes and grinders, which he became familiar with during the manual machining courses in NASCAR Tech’s CNC program.

“I went to making these tiny parts (at Integer) to parts the size of my dining room,” he says, laughing. “I have a lot more of a variety of work where I’m at now. There’s transmission, hydraulic and engine parts. Instead of running the same thing over and over when I go in, it’s something different.”

The big mills are his favorite to work on, and he says he’s learning a whole lot in his current role. “The classes (at NASCAR Tech) helped. Of course, I’m learning new things, but when it comes to the basics, I have a good foundation.”

When it comes to future goals for his career, Samuel could decide to pursue a supervisor role at Caterpillar. “I do plan on being here for a while,” he says. “The goal is to make it to the top of my bracket and reach top performance and pay.6 It’s an eight- to 10-year commitment usually.”

If that seems like a long time, consider that Samuel has found a place where people tend to stay because of opportunities there. “There’s a lot of people who have been at my shop for a long time. Some people have been here for 30 years,” he says.

Why Choose CNC?

As far as advice for someone who is interested in working in the CNC machining industry, Samuel says to remember it’s OK to mess up. “It’ll happen at school. It’ll happen at work. Things might break or crash. It’s the one thing I had to get over. You just tell someone and move on,” he says.

Samuel finds that there are a lot of great perks during his day-to-day working as a machinist.

“The hands-on component is great, and the brain work as well. You’re always going to be thinking or doing something on paper with math. If you want to stay busy during your workday, it’s the field to do it in. You’re able to pass the time,” he says.

“It’s not hard on your body and it’s enjoyable. The pay is good, the benefits are good and the hours are good,” he adds. “It’s great if you have an interest in manufacturing, how things are made/repaired and want to have the satisfaction of seeing a product go from start to finish.”

Enroll in NASCAR Tech’s CNC program!

NASCAR Tech is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and there’s no better time to enroll in the CNC Machining Technology program. In as little as 36 weeks, you can get the hands-on experience needed to pursue a career in the industry, just like Samuel!

Want to find out more? Request more information from an Admissions Representative today.

With classes starting every 3-6 weeks, no need to wait to start your career.
Hands-on training. Get hands on experience with the industry's leading brands.
No Pressure to commit. Get answers to your questions without any obligations.
Request More Info Or Call Now 800.834.7308

1) NASCAR Technical Institute is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

6) UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


Take 60 seconds and find out how you can get trained.

Step of
What kind of training are you interested in? Required
Change program to see other campuses.
First Name Required
Last Name Required
Date of Birth Required
Zip Required
Phone Number Required
Email Required