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College of Engineering and Computing

  • IIT Instructor Patrick Wright

Bringing decades of IT experience to the classroom

Integrated Information Technology (IIT) Instructor Patrick Wright has been immersed in the IT industry since the 1980s. He held roles such as computer engineer, programmer, vice president and chief information officer before finding his calling in teaching. Since 2021, Wright has helped undergraduate students in the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) hone their interests and apply their skills to real-world situations. 

Wright entered the IT field as an Apple Macintosh support technician while earning his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from James Madison University. Since then, he has addressed the IT needs of numerous industries including legal, health care and government contracts. While working for software developer Tisoft in the 1990s, he was asked to train system managers around the country on new equipment being introduced in their offices—the personal computer.

“With PCs, many employees were given new job duties that they didn’t necessarily ask for. My goal was to break that down for them and make it interesting,” Wright says. “I enjoy breaking down complex things and seeing the lightbulb go off in their heads.”

Teaching is a Wright family tradition. His grandmother was a teacher, as are his son and sister, and his father was a flight instructor. In 1998, Wright followed suit with the launch of Wright Training Consultants, which offers training for technical certifications. Even before starting his own consulting firm, he enjoyed mentoring his staff.

“I always found myself acting as a mentor to staff, helping people develop their careers and grasp ideas they didn’t fully understand. When they get it, that’s the satisfaction,” Wright says.

Wright’s transition from professional training into academia began in 2010 after a chance encounter with Midlands Technical College President Sonny White Jr., who was looking for a business-minded candidate to chair the college’s Information Systems Technology Department. Wright accepted that role and served on the Midlands Tech faculty until joining the CEC in 2021.

“Patrick brings to IIT a wealth of comprehensive knowledge and experience in the information technology field, and he is passionate about sharing that knowledge with students,” says Betty Regan, chair of the Department of IIT. “He has taught many IT courses to corporate and government clients, is a qualified CISCO Academy instructor and has considerable experience with industry certification programs such as CompTIA Security+ and Microsoft Certified Engineer.”

Wright says the biggest difference in teaching in academia versus professional settings is helping students translate what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations. He leans on his industry experience to illustrate various applications.

“I’ve worked in both large and small organizations, so what I bring to the table is showing them what an employer will look for,” he says. “I’ve hired people with these skills, so I can bring a different perspective than the research angle.”

Wright also strives to help students identify their interests under the information technology umbrella. With expertise in areas ranging from programming and databases to network integration, he is well-equipped to help them find their strengths in a broad field. According to Wright, most importantly, IIT students should have a constant desire to learn in the ever-changing field.

“Students have to figure out what slice of IT they want moving forward, but it’s also just as important that they figure out what they don’t want to do,” Wright says. “I like to expose them to different areas and then guide them in a certain area once they become more focused. It’s good to see their passion and to help steer them in the right direction.”

Throughout his career, Wright has taught students aged 18 to 70 in professional environments, continuing education classes and a university setting. His greatest satisfaction is not in the teaching, but what happens after they leave the classroom.

“Lecturing is great, but it’s really special when they come back and share how their education helped change their lives,” Wright says. “One of my students went from flipping burgers to working at CISCO’s largest facility in Raleigh. His education provided a shift in his quality of life and everything that goes with that, from job satisfaction to supporting his family.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.