Student uses his head and hands to forge career

Machinists play vital role in industrial trades industry

7/7/2022 10:11:57 AM

PLACENTIA, NL – A College of the North Atlantic (CNA) alum is singing the praises of the college’s Machinist program.

Harrison Tilley graduated from Placentia campus in 2018; the only CNA location in the province to offer the program. He says it’s a great program for anyone who loves to work with both their head and their hands.
Harrison Tilley is a graduate of the Machinist program at CNA’s Placentia campus, he has been working full time in the field since 2018.

“Machinists use machines to precisely cut and shape materials (steel, plastics, aluminum etc.) to given sizes and tolerances,” he said, adding that these skillsets play a vital role in the work force.

“Learning how to safely and efficiently make parts is something that many may not initially consider as a viable career choice, although after enrolling in CNA’s Machinist program you get to see how absolutely essential our work is to almost every industry imaginable.”

Tilley says he especially enjoyed the hands-on experience with all the “bells and whistles” on campus.

“Placentia’s campus contains all of the state-of-the-art equipment and tooling that you will encounter out in the workforce and provides a wealth of knowledge that allows students to excel in industry,” he said. “The course consists of theory and practicals; this is helpful because you take what you learn in class and directly apply it to real-world hands-on applications.”

Once he started at CNA, the Clarenville native says it wasn’t long before he found his calling.

Harrison Tilley is a graduate of the Machinist program at CNA’s Placentia campus, he has been working full time in the field since 2018.
“I have always been interested in working with my hands and making things, but it wasn't until learning exactly what I didn't want to do that I came across machining as a career choice,” he said. “It was not very long into starting the Machinist program that I realized that this was my passion.”
Working full-time since graduating four years ago, Tilley says he plans on continuing in his field for the rest of his career.

“My plans for the future are to follow this trade down as many roads as possible and to learn as much as I can,” he said. “I hope to encourage and teach people about this trade and show how rewarding it can be. I would encourage any person of any age with a love of making things and problem solving to research this trade and consider enrolling. One thing I always tell people about the CNA Placentia campus is that you are entering an environment that will set you up to be successful.”

The machinist adds that the instructors help set the tone and make the campus a welcoming place.

“The instructors are very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. The amount of relevant information they provide you with will give you the ability to excel in your workplace as an apprentice machinist,” he said. “CNA Placentia has some of the most friendly and helpful staff members you will come across and you will feel welcome and comfortable while pursuing this career.”

A silver medallist at the 2019 Skills Canada National Competition in Halifax, NS, Tilley says the hard work was all worth it.

“I would have to say that my time in CNA has consisted of many twists and turns, but it is because of CNA that I was able to find my passion, Machining. I’ve been very fortunate to earn many awards, scholarships and recognitions during my time as a machinist and none of it would've been possible without my friends, family and College of the North Atlantic.”

For more information about the Machinist program or any other at CNA, visit

Media contact:

Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic