PARTNERSHIPS WORK!

CLOSING THE MACOMB COUNTY MANUFACTURING SKILLS GAP

BY: KATHLEEN SZUMINSKI & BILLIE SCZEPANIAK

The CAD and Manufacturing programs of Van Dyke Public Schools’ Lincoln High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program are partnering with local companies for the benefit of students and employers; the result being highly trained student interns and graduates who are able to “step” right into positions in their local communities. This partnership began when teacher Fred Cook began inviting local companies to visit their programs, and provide input on their Advisory Board. Rick Hecker, President of Eifel Mold & Manufacturing in Fraser, Michigan, serves as the advisory Chairperson. Hecker continues to invite additional local manufacturing companies to the table. The Advisory Committee now includes: Midwest Mold, Precision Mold, True Industries, Grant Group and Paslin Corporation. Their collaborative commitment to preparing students to enter the workforce or college is remarkable! Students have countless opportunities to tour, job shadow, obtain co-op positions, and even full-time employment.

Lincoln graduate, Mike Owen, a 3rd-year full-time employee at Eifel Mold says, “I came here, and they brought me in with open arms. They saw I had potential. The shop has a great group of people that like teaching.” At a recent job shadowing day, Owen proudly taught the students of LHS the skills he had learned. Hecker believes that he is also fortunate to be partnered with Lincoln CTE, “It’s tough to find good, young talent. We’re trying to expose kids to the shop environment and what we can do. It’s a clean environment, employees are working with computers. They can earn $25-35 per hour as a CAD designer and $75,000-$100,000 per year with overtime. Mike has moved up very quickly.”

This year, the partnership flourished when Hecker attended a conference sponsored by DMG Mori. He was introduced to Dr. Mori and took the opportunity to share the success story of the partnership. He also discussed the high cost of maintaining equipment that reflected current industry, citing the reductions in school funding over the years. Dr. Mori offered to place a DMG

Mori 5-axis CNC machine at Lincoln High School on a “zero-dollar lease arrangement” for the upcoming two years, stating “We are very happy to support the school by providing tis machine.” When Hecker shared news of this generous donation, the local business partners began to add their own generosity. First, Hecker suggested that a grant application be submitted to the American Mold Builders Association to receive funding to support the activities. Together with Dr. Kathleen Szuminski, CTE Director of the Southwest Macomb Technical Education

Consortium (SMTEC), they wrote a grant and were excited to receive news that a $10K grant award would support their efforts. Dr. Szuminski stated, “We are thrilled with the support of our local business partners and the AMMA as we work to fill the manufacturing talent gap in Macomb County. Our students are leaving high school with skills that enable them to move right into lucrative careers; these careers afford them a family-sustaining wage and assist with their college courses as they pursue higher education.”

To ensure that the donated 5-axis CNC machine could be installed and run with no burden on the

school district’s budget, Metro Air donated the required air compressor, piping, and installation labor. Powertran Transformers gave the school a transformer and Spectron Electric finalized the installation with materials provided by Grant Industries. In addition, Autodesk provided 75 licenses for PowerMill software. Precision Mold and Manufacturing is creating and donating decals of the partner companies for the building. Regarding all of donations, Lincoln High School Principal, Billie Sczepaniak stated, “It feels like winning the lottery!”

After the machine was delivered on September 12, DMG Mori sent an applications engineer to LHS to provide three days of training for the teachers, Fred Cook and Mike Zainea. Additionally, recent LHS grad and current Eifel Mold employee Yousif Akoob, joined in the training sessions to help the teachers learn the new equipment. According to Akoob, “LHS CTE classes put me on the right path to my great career!”

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