NECC Alumnus Launches 3D Printing Company
For Jonathan Aguilar ’18, it was a single Northern Essex Community College dual enrollment course that set him on the path to his dream career.
The Lawrence High School graduate, curious about the concept of 3D modeling, had enrolled in a computer-aided drafting (CAD) course at the college while he was in high school and quickly discovered a love for the field. He enrolled in NECC’s CAD certificate program upon graduating.
“My first semester was the best,” he says of NECC, “because I was studying something I really enjoyed and I knew it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Bent on continuing on this academic path, Aguilar enrolled in NECC’s engineering science program upon completing his certificate. His love of the field, and learning, only continued to grow from here.
In his first year of the program, Aguilar got a welcome career boost when he was recruited for a year-round paid internship at Advanced Research and Development (ARD) of North Andover, through which he had the opportunity to help manufacture devices for visually-impaired individuals. It was this direct and meaningful work experience, combined with his academic prowess, that would eventually push him toward higher entrepreneurial pursuits. He describes his early experiences in the field as being both challenging and fun.
“It was like playing a video game,” he says, of creating 3D designs.
Aguilar notes that while he was fortunate enough to gain this internship experience early on, his time at NECC did not come without its share of difficulties. With an obligation to balance full-time school work, a full-time internship, and campus activities, he often found himself overwhelmed. Luckily, he says, NECC had the resources to help him remain focused. A first-generation college student, Aguilar became highly involved with PACE and the NECC honors program, both of which helped him stay on track with his goals.
“NECC helped me figure out college life through consistent academic advising whenever I had a question about a class assignment,” he says, “and it helped me shape my educational and professional path.”
During his last year at NECC Aguilar pursued dual enrollment at UMass Lowell through the NECCUM university partnership program and landed a coveted undergraduate research position with the MIT Mechanical Engineering Sloan Laboratory, which sponsored him to work full-time for MIT professors, students, and campus-affiliated startups, including Filter Sensing Technologies, Inc. (FST). As a result of this work and the associated research and writing that came with it, Aguilar became a published author with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) before even receiving his bachelor’s degree.
Aguilar transferred to UMass Lowell in 2018 through the Mass Transfer program and, after earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, launched the search for his dream job in 3D modeling. When he couldn’t find one that matched his goals and interests, he decided to try a different route entirely: he would create the job himself.
Aguilar soon got to work building his own company with the help of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, which offers startups and entrepreneurs the space and resources to develop, nurture, and grow their businesses. The result of this endeavor was CADSPARC, a computer-aided design company offering customized design services and 3D CAD modeling. In its several years of operation, it has produced various 3D CAD models for 3D printable parts, helping startups and individuals alike address their prototyping needs.
As he continues to build on his burgeoning business, Aguilar says he hopes to attract new talent and to share the excitement that a career in computer-aided drafting can generate.
“My goal is to attract individuals who also enjoy CAD work and want to learn how to design for manufacturing,” he says. “We also hope to create programs that will attract high school students to the field as well.”
In some ways, Aguilar has come full circle. Once a CAD intern himself, he now recruits and hires NECC CAD interns to assist in 3D printing work at the Innovation Hub, where they can gain hands-on experience at the prototyping lab and develop new skills along the way.
For those looking to pursue a similar path, Aguilar offers a quick word of advice:
“Follow your dreams, do right, and try your best at what you do!”
To learn more about engineering programs available through NECC, please visit our website.