Justin Bewley might not consider himself an explorer, but the path to his current drafting career involved plenty of exploration.
In high school, Bewley took career and technical education classes, exploring everything from health science to drafting.
“I think like most high school kids you think you know, but you don’t,” he said.
After graduating in 2008, Bewley enrolled in San Jacinto College’s process technology program, thinking he would become a chemical plant operator. When it wasn’t the right fit, he left classes for an auto parts store job.
Fast forward to 2014. Encouraged by friends and family, Bewley tried a basic computer-aided
design class at San Jac, enjoyed it, and continued taking classes for several semesters
until another job opportunity came his way.
Finally, plagued by back injuries from his weight and previous construction work, Bewley came to a crossroads.
“Do I want to be considered disabled at 29, or do I want to get healthy and go to school — maybe change careers?” he asked himself.
In 2021, Bewley lost weight, got his health back on track, and re-enrolled in the engineering design graphics program. No changing course this time.
“When I set my mind to something, I do the best I can,” he said.
Growing up, Bewley had always enjoyed working with computers and sketching buildings on paper. Engineering design graphics offered just that: a field that merges creativity and technical savvy. Drafters translate others’ ideas into working drawings, maps, plans, and 3D models using computer-aided drafting and modeling software. Their work is essential in many fields — from architecture, manufacturing, and engineering to construction and oil and gas.
“What I really liked was the 3D modeling,” Bewley said. “Being able to draw or model something in 3D and see how the parts come together — that made me think this is something I want to do.”
His final project — the most challenging and rewarding part of the program for him — involved taking apart a switchblade knife and modeling every piece, down to tiny screws, in 3D. Then he created a video showing how the parts come together.
Mike Turner, North Campus engineering design graphics instructor, described Bewley as a “conscientious student.”
“He was never one to look for shortcuts and always gave his best effort,” Turner said. “While there might be several ways to complete a task, he made sure it was correct on completion. The engineering business is an exact one, with little room for error or deviation from standards or codes.”
In May 2022, Bewley earned his Associate of Applied Science in engineering design graphics with a petrochemical/industrial specialty. He also already had a drafting job lined up at HMT Tank, thanks to a recommendation from another professor, Roy Parisher.
Being able to draw or model something in 3D and see how the parts come together — that made me think this is something I want to do.
After getting experience at HMT Tank in 2D drawings for chemical storage tank repairs, Bewley now works in Dashiell’s civil engineering department, creating 2D drawings of steel structures and concrete foundations for electrical substations. Thanks to both jobs, he’s considering transitioning his design skills to construction project management and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in either construction management or engineering.
As a seasoned explorer, Bewley shares this advice with others: Explore your options while in school to eliminate any field that doesn’t fit. When challenges come — and they will — ask your professors or tutors for help.
“You have to be ready to overcome some challenges in any program you take on,” he said. “Take different classes in different disciplines so you can get a feel for those areas…. Use your resources, and don’t give up.”
Is Engineering Design Graphics for You?
If you are detail-oriented, tech-savvy, and design-minded, the San Jacinto College Engineering Design Graphics Programs can lead you to a rewarding, essential career in many industries. Classes are available at the Central, North, and South Campuses.