80-year-old enrolls in engineering class at COTC

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Yet 80-year-old Roger Pierce defied the odds by returning to school last week, enrolling in a 3-D engineering drafting course at Central Ohio Technical College.

"It's a little late in the game, but I figure I've got a few miles left," he said. "I'm just trying to play catch-up." The Newark man is the oldest student in his 12-person class, Introduction to AutoCAD, an introductory course that teaches a program for computer-aided drafting.

For 59 years, Pierce, who retired from Commercial Supply Co. in 1990 and is a part-time self-employed design specialist for heating, ventilation and air conditioning services, has done his work by hand on an engineering drafting table - a technique slowly being phased out by computers. "I finally decided it's time to do it on a computer," he said. "This (course) will enhance my ability to do my job, and save others time."

Although some might be intimidated by a classroom full of younger students, Pierce said he "feels pretty much at home." "I get along pretty good with most people," he said. Although Pierce is new to COTC, he's not new to learning. After graduating from Columbus' St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 1944, Pierce went on to earn a degree in religion from Liberty Home Bible Institute in Lynchburg, Va. Through the years, he also taught himself heating, ventilation and air conditioning skills and acquired a pilot's license.

"He gets bored very easily. He's always got to be doing something," said Helen Pierce, his wife of 61 years. "And this will give him something to do. I think it's great." Pierce's seven children think so, too. "I'm really proud of him for going back to school," said his daughter, Maryann Green. "It just shows you that it's never too late to go back." Pierce said he plans to complete the two other AutoCAD courses COTC offers and eventually earn a degree in the computer program. "There's an old saying: 'Either you use it or you lose it,' and I want to use it," he said.

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