RAINSVILLE, Ala. - National Apprenticeship week is November 11 through 17. Some Northeast Alabama Community College students know first-hand the importance of an apprenticeship.
The goal of the Project MFG contest is to promote the value of careers in manufacturing trades and accelerate new entrants into the workforce.
It is also really complicated.
“We’re milling out a square and milling some extrusions on it we have programmers programming putting tool pass to it,” said NACC student John Headrick.
It takes a team of drafters, machinists, and welders to succeed.
The NACC Project MFG team is one of seven elite community college teams in the state working to make it to the state finals.
If they win there, they’ll go on to compete in the International Machine Tool Show in Chicago.
Students say a lot is on the line.
“It’s not just for our futures, it’s for the future of other students who are wanting to come here. Because doing this competition also allows us to get funding from the government to better these classes so they can get a better opportunity for their futures, too,” said NACC student Amy Hamilton.
NACC machine tool instructor Hugo DeAngelis said the Department of Defense is sponsoring the competition to raise schools to a higher standard.
Hamilton and Headrick are apprentices at local businesses.
“You get the education side and the industry side, I believe it’s very important to get into. That way you can get more experience before you are turned loose into the field of your choice,” said Headrick.
DeAngelis told WHNT News it is those real-world work skills employers are needing right now.
“This is to address the skills gap in advanced manufacturing. Not many shops have this fifth axis element, not many schools have it, not many states have it, so education is trying to get ahead of the curb and develop students that can run these fifth axis machines,” said DeAngelis.
DeAngelis said the Tennessee Valley is covered with manufacturing jobs, so this education is not only beneficial to the students, but also to the local workforce and economy.
“Machinists are involved in every day of your life. Everything you look at, there was a mold, or stamp, or a punch, or something made to produce that part,” said DeAngelis.
18-year-old Hamilton participated in dual enrollment during high school with NACC.
She also took advantage of NACC’s early enrollment program.
Hamilton graduated with her associate degree in May 2020. She plans to continue her education before going into the workforce.
Headrick has been a NACC student for two years. He is an apprentice and full-time employee at GH Metal Solutions.
Ryan Rogers and Riley Biddle are two drafters on the NACC Project MFG team.
Rogers participated in dual enrollment. He plans to go straight into the local workforce after graduation in May 2020.
Biddle is an apprentice at GH Metal Solutions. He plans to continue working there after graduating in May 2020.