Usually when I arrive at Collision Cowork for the day, Jarrus has his focus locked onto his laptop where he’s either preparing a lesson for the online courses he’s instructing, reviewing results from an inspection, or maybe he is preparing a presentation for a college to get the NDE Institute’s courses offered as a part of their curriculum. I was finally lucky enough to sit down with him for an uninterrupted 20 minutes to find out more about what he is doing with his business to get a better idea of what one of our coworkers is up to. After the first few questions I could see the passion in Jarrus’ eyes – this is a man who is in love with his work and is using it to better the world around him.
Jarrus is a York County native. He went to school at Norfolk State University where he began studying architecture. After leaving school he moved to Brooklyn, New York where he found a job in construction. Soon into the job he got into drafting construction documents and concluded that he was in the wrong place. Doing the same thing repeatedly, day in and day out, took away from the meaning of his work – everything felt “cookie cutter”.
After this realization, he took some time to do field assessments some engineers which allowed him to learn about quality control in the construction industry. This led him to starting his business in 2011 in New York City where his first job would be inspecting Freedom Towers, also known as the One World Trade Center. On this particular job, Jarrus ran ultrasonic testing on the blast plates under the building which are in place to ensure that anything that happens underground doesn’t damage the building. Eventually he left New York after deciding it wasn’t the place for him and returned south to the Carolinas where he landed a job working on on non-destructive testing for buildings. He took these same principles and applied them to a manufacturing environment and then opened the NDE Institute to certify and train others on Catalyst in Charlotte which are luxury high-rise apartments in uptown. He was responsible for testing every facet of the building that required construction materials inspection. Jobs like this are what Integrity Special Inspections tackle every day, which led Jarrus to his next business venture – the NDE Institute.
When he was in New York, Jarrus noticed there were incredible opportunities to train people how to complete these inspections. What’s more is that there are no other programs that exist like the one offered from the NDE Institute. Many of the trainings people receive for non-destructive inspections are done in-house by companies making the knowledge and processes all proprietary and exclusive to that company. It also means that if the company doesn’t need a certain type of inspection, then they won’t teach it. Jarrus’ course gives a wider range of knowledge arming his students with the ability to do multiple types of inspections. The course is 33 weeks – a quarter of the duration it takes to receive an associate’s degree in other similar programs.
“When people complete our program, they can step onto a job and say, ‘I am qualified to do this inspection and I can do that inspection’ making the transition to employment seamless” says Robyn Fryer, the senior administrator for Integrity Special Inspections and the NDE Institute. Even better than that, the program costs less than a traditional college degree and is completed in a fraction of the time.
Now, the NDE Institute is looking to expand into technical colleges like York Tech to make the certification more accessible and puts it within the realm of continued education programs. This also brings non-destructive testing certification out of the private-sector increasing its accessibility to everyone. Jarrus wants to bring non-destructive testing to the mainstream and bring it to the realm of STEM careers making it one of the few vocational STEM avenues. What’s better is that the market for these kind of jobs is everywhere – everywhere there is construction.
The NDE Institute also works with the Austin Wilkes Society, a government organization that aimsto rehabilitate criminal offenders, at-risk youth, veterans, the homeless, and families in crises to get them back on track to a more balanced life. The people who receive the certifications through NDE Institute have the credibility of their certification, the Austin Wilkes Society, and their probation officers to soften the intimidation of their criminal record in hopes to get them a job in the field and a chance to turn a new leaf.
“People do things for different reasons and when they get caught up in negativity it could be that they were trying to do something positive and didn’t receive the proper feedback which caused the negative outcome. We try to give the positive feedback and turn around that outcome here” says Jarrus. One his success stories is of a man with a criminal record who had been working at BiLo for 15 years and never seen more than maybe $10.00/hour. After working with Jarrus and the NDE Institute, he was able to complete his certification and take his first job making nearly double what he was making at BiLo at $18.00/hour with a firm in Lancaster, SC. A number this man never thought he would see in his life. This man is now the head inspector for this firm and has been there for three years. The NDE Institute changed his life forever.