The Perfect Design: TCC Instructor Kevin May

Kevin May made a name for himself as a successful custom jewelry designer for Jared nearly two decades ago. He was one of the company’s leading producers. 

Repeat customers seeking the unique, the personal, the one-of-a-kind had him on speed dial. They praised his wedding sets, which allowed May’s creative juices to flow as he brought the client’s vision to life.  

He estimates designing and producing 25-30 custom jobs a year from 2008 to 2012. He was busy. He was happy.  

He was ready to elevate his creativity and increase his autonomy by incorporating different technologies into the process. 

“In the rare times when I was able to implement my own design, I preferred Art Deco styles,” he recalled. “I think that style is probably my favorite look regardless of whether it’s jewelry, automobiles or architecture.” 

When it came to choosing a school to expand his skills, May selected the nearby Tarrant County College South Campus. He enrolled in the basic computer-aided drafting and design class in the spring 2009 semester. All he wanted to do was better design custom jewelry.  

Then again, trained CADD professionals prepare technical drawings that can be used to build everything from manufactured products to office towers. That first class showed him the vast potential of these programs. 

Soon he began to consider doing CADD full time in a manufacturing environment. 

Since he enjoyed the first class so much, he increased his courseload. He credits the teaching style of adjunct CADD instructor Chris Credicott for influencing his decision to continue at TCC. “As I started taking my core classes, I began to learn how to think critically about the world around me, which I think is the most important thing to learn at any college or university,” he said. 

May graduated in 2012 with an associate degree in computer-aided drafting and design. CADD software was increasingly influencing his jewelry designs for clients. He had continued to enjoy success growing his loyal Jared following.  

But a fresh challenge can be a powerful lure. 

Two years after earning his associate degree, May found himself back in a South Campus classroom as an adjunct instructor in the same CADD department he had visited on many occasions. One of his strongest supporters, department coordinator Tom Ford, hired May for the same reasons, Ford said, that made him a good student. 

“He was inquisitive and expanded the boundaries of the class materials. He looked for ways to make some rather dry, boring materials interesting. May also presented new ideas to the students.” 

For a while, juggling custom jewelry design work and teaching full time became the norm for May. Turns out it was just the next step. 

In 2016 Professor Ford gave May contact information for Martin Sprocket & Gear, the sprawling Arlington-based equipment manufacturer with 34 locations worldwide. May was able to set up an interview. 

And that’s how he became a designer for the multinational manufacturer of power transmission components, material handling products, industrial hand tools, heavy-duty conveyor pulleys and a raft of other exotic items in a host of endeavors.  

They originate in the material handling department, which he leads, then are made either at the Burleson or Mansfield plants. Facilities in Fort Worth produce tools, idlers and pulleys. 

May says his department controls the largest market share in the industry.  

The company’s screw conveyors, bucket elevators and drag conveyors populate multiple industries, from wastewater treatment and mining to meat rendering, agriculture and breweries. “We have sold equipment to local whiskey distilleries, a large salt producer and two of the largest poultry providers in the country. Basically, any manufacturer that has a production process that requires material to be moved from one point to another can benefit from what we produce.” 

May believes his biggest contribution to customer productivity lies in quickly replacing aging equipment. Clients typically send his team a 3D model of their production layout, or they will hire a third party to go in and make a 3D scan of the facility.  

“I can use that data to design a drop-in replacement that reduces their shut-down time. We can also use the same information to offer improvements to their production process. These capabilities weren’t available even 20 years ago, and I’m excited to see where this technology will lead.” 

Another reward for May is having on his team several TCC students and alumni, some of whom have taken his classes. “I enjoy giving students the benefit of my industry experience in manufacturing,” he said. “I try to prepare them for what they will encounter in this field.”   

His company has always favored TCC graduates. May says that’s no accident.  

“Martin Sprocket & Gear has had a relationship with the TCC drafting department at the South Campus for many years. The department has always been up to date with the latest software and technology. It’s good to know that students coming out of that program are knowledgeable with current software and manufacturing techniques.” 

Between his material handling department in Fort Worth and the sprocket engineering department in Arlington, 15 of the 19 mechanical designers have been enrolled in TCC South’s CADD program at some point. The collaboration drew attention at a recent TCC Board of Trustees meeting, where May spoke briefly about the pipeline of talent right here in Tarrant County.  

Trustee Gwendolyn Morrison liked what she heard. 

“The best evidence of the benefit of Tarrant County College is in the partnerships with our local businesses and in the lives of our graduates. No greater example than Kevin May,” she said. “His success stresses the importance of the partnership between TCC and Martin Sprocket & Gear and demonstrates exactly why our CADD program does such a great job of preparing students for high-impact careers.”   

Learn more about the CADD program at TCC