October 7, 2014 The River Valley Technical Center, our partner in Manufacturing Week events, highlights youth employed in local industry. Andrew Nickerson is an alumi of our Working Machine Shop.
Workers' employability skills are paying off in manufacturing. When it comes to having a good work ethic, like getting to work on time and doing as much as you can in a day, River Valley Technical Center (RVTC) graduates are getting it right. As the technical center continues to focus on employability skills, they are turning out productive employees like Andrew Nickerson who is a CNC machine operator at J & L Metrology, Incorporated in Springfield, Vermont. Nickerson, who graduated in 2011, took advantage of co-operative education opportunities, working at the American Precision Museum and J & L during his time at the tech center. He came to the job prepared with the technical skills he was taught, but more importantly the job readiness or soft skills he learned. Dependability, organization, communication, problem solving and collaboration are emphasized in each program area of the Tech Center. Today reading blueprints, cutting stock, setting tools and programming machines to run parts are part of his daily routine, technical skills he learned while in high school. "The best advice I can give is to take in as much information as you can, you can never learn to much about the process." Said Nickerson. Being dependable may be easy for Nickerson, but the precise measurements he makes on the job are crucial to being able to accurately machine any given part. "The hardest part of my job is figuring out the tooling for each material because the different grades of carbide and different cutting edges. It is important to check every part. We have a three axis mill that uses conversational programming." Nickerson said. He's a graduate of the Mechanical Design and Innovation (MDI) program, an RVTC program where high school students are introduced to machine tools, measuring instruments, and machining operations, and how they relate to the production of consumer goods. Students also develop skills in 3-D, CAD, Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), robotics, hydraulics, pneumatics, and prototype development.
Zakary Walker, a tool maker from Walpole, New Hampshire, is training to be a CNC operator for Whelen Engineering Company, Incorporated in Charlestown, New Hampshire. He says his take away from the River Valley Technical Center was his leadership skills, learning to work independently and how to work together. Walker graduated in 2012. He completed the Carpentry program at RVTC. He said his technical skills such as reading blue prints and using industry tools was a huge factor for him landing the job at Whelen. "No one can take your skills away from you, and skills are money." Said Walker. He said to get as much experience as you can and keep pushing. Walker is finishing up his apprenticeship at Whelen. He has been enrolled in the program for almost two years and is ready to be certified as a CNC operator. "I love my job here, it's a challenge. The company is growing." Said Walker. Whelen is the manufacturer of emergency lights and sirens primarily for fire and rescue, law enforcement, security, and military clients.
National manufacturing day is celebrated on October 3rd. Manufacturers and educational institutions around the country are hosting manufacturing day events including many open houses and student tours in our region. River Valley Technical Center's MDI students will be touring a number of companies for hands-on activities, demonstrations, and a Question/Answer on manufacturing careers and opportunities.
Press Release: Suzanne Groenewold, River Valley Technical Center