One friend worked in the design department of the Newport News Shipyard and encouraged Wright to apply for a job there. Wright got the job and began working at the shipyard by day while continuing his education at night.
“Suddenly, because of TCC, I realized I had potential,” he says. “I became obsessed with taking classes and doing well because I knew what I had wasted.”
Wright met TCC Professor David Steinhauer, who introduced him to what is now AutoCad, the industry standard in design, modeling and engineering.
“He helped me shape my vision of design, engineering and mathematics,” Wright says. “I loved it.”
Wright went on to apply to the Newport News Apprentice School, and a few classes shy of his associate degree at TCC, finished up at Thomas Nelson Community College because of its proximity to the shipyard. Nonetheless, he considers TCC his alma mater, too, along with Old Dominion University, where he earned his bachelor’s in 1991.
“I was so pleased that TCC would take a kid like me and allow me to realize what my potential was,” he says.
Wright Engineering & Design has been in business since 1999, providing design and engineering support for the construction and manufacturing industry. Wright has been mayor of Portsmouth since 2010.
When Wright lunched with former TCC president Deborah DiCroce before she retired, he told her how relevant the words “From here, go anywhere” were to his life.
“From TCC, you can go anywhere,” he says. “That’s my story. I owe TCC so much.”