NCTC machining instructor honored with memorial scholarship

Elizabeth F. Abu | Apr 30, 2018

willie-knightA scholarship has been established at North Central Texas College in memory of Wilton “Willie” E. Knight. Knight was a machining instructor for NCTC from 1997 to 2010, and was instrumental in reinstating the machining program for the college.  

Knight’s nephew Stephen Keene made the initial donation to set up this scholarship as a way to honor Knight’s love of machining and of industrial education.  

“Willie would tell you that these programs are the key to good jobs that can sustain a family,” said Keene.

Keene has been in the specialty chemicals and engineering polymers industries for 30 years.

“In my business, I see a tremendous need for skilled machinists,” said Keene. “From the vessels, pumps, and controllers used to pull oil out of the ground or harvest natural products, purify those raw materials into fine chemicals or the food that sustains us, run chemical reactions and blending, or mold plastics into everything from packaging, to toys, to engine components, to build the aircraft that fly us all over the world and put people in space; behind all of that, there is someone who knows how to machine precision parts and keep those machines running.” 

Preference for this scholarship will be given to applicants who have a minimum high school grade point average of 2.75, have completed high school algebra and geometry with a minimum grade of B for each course, and are enrolled in a career and technical course at NCTC leading to a certificate or degree in Machining, Welding, Industrial Mechanics, HVAC, Electrical Technician, Petroleum Technology, Farm and Ranch or Engineering Technology.

“Willie was one of those unsung heroes who could make things, fix things, and teach others how to do it,” said Keene. “He used and developed his skills in the service of his country as a machinist in the Navy and a veteran of the Korean War.  He worked tirelessly for many years in a variety of skilled jobs, and chose to teach others at NCTC.”

To make a donation to this scholarship, you can mail your donation to the NCTC Foundation at 1525 W. California St., Gainesville, TX 76240. Please indicate that your donation goes to the Wilton E. Knight Scholarship.  You can also go to and click the “Make a Gift” button, and designate the Willie Knight Scholarship, to make a donation online.

For more information about scholarships, contact NCTC Scholarship Coordinator Kim Carroll at


Willie Knight in Italy while stationed there with the United States Navy.


Willie Knight in the mechanical room on board his ship while in the U.S. Navy.