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RCC’s Jeremiah Locklear designs and builds the ultimate “dog cave”

Man’s best friend might be getting a smart upgrade to housing soon, thanks to a newly designed prototype doghouse by RCC graduate Jeremiah Locklear.

Locklear’s one-of-a-kind design features all the luxuries a dog could ask for including a remote-controlled door with sensors, automated feeders and water cooler, a roof that opens and closes, and best of all, its thermostat controlled so that the temperature inside can be moderated ensuring the pup stays cool in the hot days of summer and warm during frigid temperatures of winter.

“I have a lot of friends that raise dogs,” said Locklear on his inspiration behind the design. “So, they spend a lot of time just caring for them, and they’ll check on them for three or four, five times a day, so this would just be an idea to help make their lives a little simpler…. I plan to start getting puppies and raising dogs, so this would help make sure they were comfortable at all times during the day.”

It’s truly a “dog cave” in the making, you could say, a canine’s ultimate backyard retreat.

“I drew everything out, the theory of operations, the schematics, so I had a plan going into it,” said Locklear regarding his blueprint. “I had to make a couple of tweaks to it with programming, but I pretty much followed the plan the whole way through.”

What started as just an assignment for his final project in his applications project class, ELC 229, may very well be the start of a new business for the 2023 RCC graduate.

“I’ve had a few people tell me they would like to buy one,” said Locklear. “It definitely would be a route for a new business, definitely a side business where I just make one or two a year.”

“Even just branching out different ideas… I’ve heard some people say a chicken house would be fairly simple,” said Locklear on making adjustments to create spinoffs of his innovative idea.

The doghouse is so big, it had to be put on a trailer to get it to campus. Classmates and instructors could be seen out in the parking lot admiring the work of Locklear.  

“He did a great job, he incorporated all the programs we offer out here,” said RCC Instructor Timothy Bryant. “He’s got a little bit of air conditioning, a little bit of heat, electrical wiring too.”

“That’s an A project right there,” RCC Instructor Michael Levinson said as he examined the dog house. “We’ve had students do just a dog feeder or a deer feeder, but not a big dog house with all that stuff in it, we’ve never had that before, so this is like one of greatest projects we’ve ever had.”

Before Locklear enrolled at RCC, he was working in the field installing commercial and residential wiring. It’s a job he still has and continues to work at. His employer, a friend of Levinson, called saying, “I have a young guy working for me, he’s pretty bright, but I want him to go further than just working for me.”

“Of course, I told him to send him on out, and now look at what we got,” Levinson said in awe of the project that stood before him. “He’s the ideal student.” 

“He’s been working doing residential and commercial wiring the whole time and coming here the whole time,” said Levinson. “So, he’s got the best of both worlds, hands-on experience out in the field, working, and in the classroom.”

Locklear says he put a lot of effort into building the dog house, saying he spent most of his time on Fridays and Saturdays building it over the last 16 weeks.

“That was really the only time I had to work on it,” Locklear said. “There was a lot of automation in this. Working in the job I am in now, I could have done the wiring part of it, the programming, and working with the relays; but I have definitely gained a lot of knowledge in the automation part of it through my classes at RCC…it was a challenge, but this has been a good experience, I have learned a lot.”

Jeremiah Locklear stands with RCC President Melissa Singler as he receives his degree in electrical systems from Robeson Community on May 10, 2023.

As for the future?

Locklear still has one more standing engagement with Robeson Community College.

Although Locklear has now since graduated and has completed his degree in electrical systems, he will be competing in Atlanta this June in the SkillsUSA competition for Mechatronics. In April, Locklear placed first in the North Carolina competition along with his teammate and fellow graduate, Dorian Walters.

After that, the future remains wide open for Locklear.

“I plan on staying at the company I work at for now, at least for a few more months depending on what other opportunities might become available,” Locklear said.

There are many options that Locklear is considering. He might become a contractor, start his own business as an electrician, or even go back to school to advance his education and get a bachelor’s degree. But we have a feeling once the word gets out about his invention, you might start to spot Locklear’s “dog caves” all across Robeson County and beyond.

Photo above: Jeremiah Locklear, left, stands with instructors from the Industrial Technologies division at Robeson Community College as he gives his presentation for his final project before graduation – an automated, remote-controlled dog house with a heating and air ventilation system.

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