Skip to main content
Our People

Textile Technology Alumnus Turns Senior Design Into Medical Textile Career

Ross Mason uses his textile technology degree to innovate medical textiles for use with prosthetics.

Ross Mason holds "wolfs up" in front of white building with "TheraFirm a Knit-Rite Company" printed on the side.

When Wilson College of Textiles alumnus Ross Mason began work on his Senior Design project, he never imagined it would take him to where he is today — leading over a hundred employees as a plant manager at Knit-Rite, a leading producer of prosthetic interfaces, compression garments and other medical textiles. 

Mason, who graduated with a degree in textile technology (TT) with a concentration in medical textiles in 2016, originally found the Wilson College through the Summer Textile Exploration Program. It was there he decided to pursue his burgeoning interest in medical textiles. 

Senior Design Kickstarts Career

Mason followed this interest through his time at the college and into Senior Design, where students are assigned a year-long industry-sponsored project. The students see these projects through from project planning and design, to prototyping and testing, all the way to presenting their final products or processes. 

Mason and his Senior Design teammates aimed to create a new textile intended for use in combination with prosthetics. 

“We were trying to develop a three-dimensional fabric for prosthetic liners,” Mason explains. “We were in the lab knitting, sourcing different knitted fabrics in order to achieve a liner that could act as a cushion for the patient.” 

Ross Mason (center) stands for a picture with two other students outside the Wilson College of Textiles.
Mason and his Senior Design project partners.

It was with the knowledge he had built during Senior Design that Mason formed a connection with Knit-Rite at one of the college’s career fairs, and earned his start with the company. 

“I started as a plant operations assistant,” Mason says. “I showed up and put in the work every day. I learned a lot by being hands on and used the knowledge I gained from the college to work my way up within the company.”

Production and Sustainability  

Now Mason works as both the plant manager and the research and development manager for Knit-Rite’s plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. 

“Our focus is on medical compression devices along with soft goods for use with prosthetics,” Mason says. “If it’s an interface for bracing, if it’s a prosthetic interface, if it’s compression socks, pantyhose, thigh highs, maternity support bands — we produce it.”

In his role, Mason is responsible for everything from production to shipping to maintenance. No two days look the same. 

“I look at production outputs, scrap rates and shipping data to make sure that customers are receiving their orders on time,” Mason says. “I’m the senior site manager for the facility, working in a general operations role.” 

Mason also works on the corporate social responsibility committee, helping to implement new sustainability practices and standards. 

All the new advancements in technology really excite me. It’s all becoming more energy efficient.

“The big project right now is yearly budgets,” Mason says. “What new equipment are we going to purchase next year? Making sure we do analysis on capacity, sales and revenue. We want to be sure we can meet demand for the next year.” 

Through this work Mason is able to continue a focus on sustainability that he began during his time at the college, helping to bring in newer and greener technology.

“All the new advancements in technology really excite me,” Mason explains. “It’s all becoming more energy efficient. Our dyeing equipment is using less and less water. Our finishing is becoming much cleaner for the environment.The fibers in the yarns are moving towards recycled options.”

Language and Leadership

For Mason, his two most important takeaways from his time at the college were language and leadership. 

“There is a language of textiles,” Mason says. “There’s denier, there’s courses, there’s weft yarns and warp yarns. There’s a whole language that’s surrounded by textiles and as soon as you enter the workforce and you’re in the textile industry, because of your time at the college you can have an informed conversation.”

Ross Mason wears a gown and holds a cap, roses and a diploma in front of a "College of Textiles" sign.

Beyond just the language of textiles, Mason says the college and his time working on his Senior Design project helped him build the leadership skills he now uses to run the Knit-Rite plant. 

“There was such an emphasis put on proper project management,” he explains. “Senior Design instructors put you in difficult positions where you were presenting to faculty, where they’re questioning you. It simulates really nicely what it’s like to present on an executive level.”

Mason’s advice to current students is to seek out that challenge and discomfort which will ultimately prepare you for life outside the classroom. 

“Find a place like the Wilson College where you’re surrounded by people that can challenge you, that treat you well and respect the effort,” he says.