Early College Academy Graduate Lands Internship at NIAR | Butler Community College

Early College Academy Graduate Lands Internship at NIAR

Harrison Hatridge uses Butler associate degree to build coding projects, excel at NIAR.
Harrison Hatridge secures internship at NIAR soon after graduating with both his high school diploma and an associate degree through Butler's Early College Academy. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo)
Published: Thursday, February 29th, 2024

Harrison Hatridge uses Butler associate degree to build coding projects, excel at NIAR.

Written by: Caleb Sanderson

Recent Early College Academy (ECA) graduate Harrison Hatridge credits Butler Community College for his current employment at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR). It is here Hatridge builds web-based projects for clients, using both the analytical and creative sides of his Butler Interactive, Digital and 3D Technology degree. 

“If anything, the Early College Academy, specifically the game design pathway, taught me how to independently problem solve,” the Andover eCademy graduate said. “That is something very important in software development at NIAR.” 

He studied animation, modeling, graphic design and programming while at Butler, and now uses that knowledge to perform well at his job as he completes front- and back-end design, code management and data input tasks. 

Because Hatridge took advantage of the Early College pathway as a junior and senior in high school, he finished his Butler degree and entered the workforce earlier than most.  

“They usually don't hire freshmen at NIAR, but since I had gone through the Early College Academy, I had the work ethic and experience they were looking for,” Hatridge said with enthusiasm. “The people at NIAR are very supportive and we are always teaching each other new things. I doubt I would have gotten the job if it weren't for the Early College Academy. The Early College Academy helped me grow new skills as well as the maturity needed to work at NIAR.” 

Because the ECA pathway holds high expectations for students, Hatridge felt challenged to better his skills and step out of his comfort zone to learn and accomplish a task. This made his transition to a new job easier. 

“Harrison always impressed me with his professionalism and work ethic,” said Michael Donovan, Director of Butler of Andover ECA. 

Since he began in the summer of 2023 as an intern, Hatridge has worked on many projects, including confidential ones with the US government, and has seen a few through to completion. These projects have given him practice serving various clients and their different expectations. Hatridge feels he is working on projects that regularly challenge him to learn more and expand his skillset. 

Mirroring his degree and duties at NIAR, Hatridge develops his own independent (indie) games during his free time. He is currently working on a 2D “top-down perspective” game with two NIAR coworkers. He’s even coded one from scratch without a gaming engine.  

Hatridge is furthering his education in Computer Science at WSU. NIAR has been a great starting point for Hatridge’s career, and he knows he has options, including working in game design for an IT company or teaching others. With his indie group project underway, he might begin to make a name for himself in the gaming world.