Adjunct And Bridge To Clemson Alumnus Eric Roper DSC3113

Press Release                                                                                                                                                   
January 4, 2024

(By Lisa Garrett)

Bridge to Clemson Alumnus and Engineer Eric Roper Serving as TCTC Adjunct 

PENDLETON --- Alumnus Eric Roper was feeling nostalgic as he headed to the TCTC Pendleton Campus this week –   returning for the first time I3 years after graduating from the Bridge to Clemson program in 2009.  The reason for his visit was to attend an orientation session for new adjunct faculty members who will begin teaching next week.  Roper will teach two online classes for the Engineering and Industrial Technology Division. “It’s good to be back.  I’m proud to be a TCTC alumnus,” said Roper, who several years ago moved back to Anderson County after living and working in Virginia, most recently as the chief engineer for a Department of Defense contractor.  Currently, he is project manager for Hargrove Engineers and Constructors in Greenville.

He reconnected with Dr. Mandy Elmore, assistant vice president of curriculum and instruction at TCTC, on LinkedIn when he saw a post by Elmore who was seeking adjunct instructors for spring semester.

She was one of his teachers when he was a student at the Anderson Career and Technology Center and later became a mentor when he was a Bridge student on campus.

After graduating from Clemson University with a mechanical engineering degree in 2013, he began working for a NASA contractor as a mechanical engineer and later in mission management until 2020. During his tenure, he launched 25 missions for NASA all over the world.

The first day Roper reported for work as a mechanical engineer for NASA’s Sounding Rocket Operations Contract on Wallops Island, Virginia, there were six rockets on his desk.  His job was to design the hardware, draft all the drawings for each part, submit them to the shop to get all the hardware built, draft up the assembly drawings, create a test plan, and then present all this information to his upper management, NASA, and the customer throughout the life cycle of each individual rocket.

Four months into the job, he had launched his first rocket and within the next three years, he had launched a total of six rockets.  Over the years Roper designed rocket payloads for scientific research and experiments, along with targets for defense contracts. 

“It was very exciting,” said the Easley native, who credits his academic and professional success to beginning college in Tri-County Technical College’s nationally-recognized Bridge to Clemson program and continuing in Clemson University’s engineering curriculum and engaging in co-op opportunities.

Before graduating from Clemson, he had three job offers --from the CIA, SPAWAR in Charleston and NASA. He chose NASA because of an internship he completed there while at Clemson. 

He says he was a successful college freshman at Tri-County and later at Clemson because of his start in the Bridge to Clemson program, a unique freshman-year program that blends the traditional academic experience at Tri-County with the social and cultural experiences of being a Clemson University student.

 “The Bridge program allowed me to ease into the college atmosphere,” Roper said. “It also helped me to figure out which area of engineering best suited me.  The general education and math classes I needed were taught by great Tri-County instructors who helped me to get ahead of the game when I got to Clemson in 2009. I was definitely prepared for my sophomore year,” he said.

“It was an easy transition - it was merely a change of campus, not a change in the level of academics,” said the 2008 Wren High School graduate.

“With help from my parents, the LIFE scholarship and working weekends, third shifts, and holidays, I paid for college myself and managed to graduate debt free.  Any time someone asks about my career path, I tell them I highly recommend the Bridge to Clemson program.  It’s affordable and a good way to ease into the college lifestyle.”

“I loved every minute of my time at TCTC.  It’s the reason I was successful in college,” said Roper.

“Eric is an extraordinary young man who has accomplished so much,” said Dr. Elmore.  “As an adjunct engineering instructor, Eric will launch students’ careers instead of rockets, and I can’t wait to see it.”

About Tri-County Technical College

Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, business administration, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit