Dmitry Kopytin’s road to becoming a BMW Scholars supervisor included emigration from Russia, becoming a small business owner, working in construction and becoming a student.
The BMW Scholars Program is an apprenticeship program that partners with local area technical colleges. The program allows students who are in manufacturing-related degrees to attend class full-time while working part-time at BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC.
Kopytin began his work with BMW in 2012; and his motivation and determination have helped him go from an equipment services associate working on the production floor to now a supervisor in the scholars program. But he didn’t start out with a goal of working at BMW. He was interested in computers and computer networking. But that didn’t come until after he had to first learn English and adapt to a new country.
Kopytin and his parents left Russia in 1999 for Manchester, N.H., where he ultimately graduated from Manchester High School.
“It was a good challenge since I did not know one word of English and I had to learn on the fly,” he said, adding that he learned to say hello in English while on the plane to the U.S.
“My parents said when we moved into a different country that if you want to be successful in work you have to learn the language and work hard,” he said. “When I came here nobody spoke Russian, so I dove into a culture I didn’t know anything about. I watched Barney and Sesame Street and from cartoons, because that’s how the kids learn, so I figured I’d be like a sponge soaking it all in.”
Kopytin said it took about six to eight months for him to learn English.
“I was always told that nothing is free in life and that you have to work hard if you want to be successful,” he said. “One of my favorite sayings is ‘Never back, always forward, and If you never give up, you'll be successful.’”
After graduating from high school and while still in New Hampshire, Kopytin owned a computer repair/networking business for four years. In 2005 he wanted to move somewhere warm and decided on South Carolina. Once in the Greenville area Kopytin entered the construction field, in which he spent nine years running different crews and traveling.
Kopytin said a slowing economy, along with having a family (he had a wife and a young son at the time), led him to “restructure” his plans.
“I looked at manufacturing because of the stability in getting paid and having health insurance. I didn’t have any manufacturing experience so I looked in to different tools that would help me be more marketable,” he said.
Those “different tools” included getting training and an education.
Kopytin dove into his studies with a hard-to-match dedication, taking classes at both Greenville Technical College and USC Upstate so he could take more than the maximum allowed credits at one school. He took classes through the continuing education program at Greenville Tech, where he became a Certified Production Technician and then a Certified Siemens Technician. The training helped him get a job at Cytec’s carbon fiber plant, where he obtained good work experience but decided he wanted more. That’s when his father-in-law introduced him to the BMW Scholars Program. After joining the program Kopytin met Greenville Tech mechatronics instructor Duane Anderson.
“Dmitry took an unusual path,” Anderson said of Kopytin’s educational choices. “Normally if you take a certification path, you take only one or the other, and he did both. Dmitry is a driven man and very focused. I guess that’s the greatest trait he brought to us.”
Kopytin said his path wasn’t easy, but that “my lovely wife Amber was my rock, and my wonderful kids gave me motivation to keep my eyes on the prize and to see the big picture in the future,” the now father of three young boys said.
“I am very excited to work with and mentor future BMW tech scholar associates,” Kopytin said. “This will be a very rewarding job for me because I have been in their shoes and I will be with them from start to finish.”
According to the BMW Manufacturing website, the scholars program “allows students to further their education while gaining valuable experience in a high-tech manufacturing environment with the potential to become candidates for full-time positions at BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC after successful completion of the program.” BMW provides tuition assistance each semester and a competitive part-time wage while the student is enrolled full-time and actively participating in the scholars program.
“My perspective helps motivate them,” Kopytin said. “If I face someone who is down or maybe given up on something, I tell them ‘I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve been here. I know it’s hard. School is hard.’
”With motivation and determination you will see the light.”