By Jennifer Ferrero
“We have a vibrant economy – the most difficult challenge is to complete students before they get a job,” Sheila Dunn, Associate Dean of Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Careers, AMTEC
Thor Nelson, 35, was working in landscaping when he decided that the opportunities were drying up. He had been to Everett Community College in the past, so he made an appointment with Annette Floyd, student achievement initiatives manager, who was involved with the Air Washington grant program (which allowed more than 2,600 people to obtain industry training between 2011-2015). Floyd talked with Nelson about his hobbies and aptitudes. He likes working with his hands and wasn’t partial to sitting at a desk all day. He had also been involved with radio-controlled helicopters and other R/C devices for about 14 years. She recommended that he get involved with the Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center (AMTEC) which is a part of the Everett Community College Campus.
Nelson enrolled in the ATA degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology- Composites, which is a 2-year degree program. He is also taking classes in design with CATIA, SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD. There is also a two quarter certification program.
Nelson said that he has a mix of students in his program – some right out of high school and other more experienced workers who are retraining or working toward a degree or certification while they work in the industry.
“The Advanced Manufacturing Training & Education Center (AMTEC) is a 37,000 sq. ft. modern facility located in Everett, WA, that is operated by Everett Community College. AMTEC offers short, stackable certifications and certificates that build to a college degree and a pathway to family wage jobs in manufacturing industry,” Everett, AMTEC webpage.
Sheila Dunn, expresses positive energy regarding the program and growth at AMTEC. “Last year we had about 1,000 people training at AMTEC, each quarter there are about 400 individuals taking classes,” Dunn said.
Employment opportunities for students coming out of AMTEC programs are less of a gamble and more of a sure thing with a 90% completion rate from the program, and a 90% hiring rate with the over 200 Boeing suppliers within a 10-mile radius.
“The machining graduates have a 100% employment rate,” Dunn added.
She also noted that they have put into practice more career counseling and advising through the role of Annette Floyd who is following a model set up by Air Washington that included Career Navigators.
“AMTEC connects over 1,000 students annually with more than 200 manufacturing industry employers through on-site visits, collaborative projects, and placement for internships and jobs. Industry partners have donated a full range of materials and equipment for students to experience real-world, applicable skills training,” Everett, AMTEC webpage.
In a year, when Nelson graduates from the program, he said he is open to working at a large manufacturing company, but he worries about the mass production of products. He likes the ability to be involved with multiple production projects at a time, while having a hand in designing and tooling. Nelson considers himself a bit of an overachiever in the program, but he said that it is because he is enjoying learning and working with people in the industry. He has gotten involved with many cross-college and university clubs and attends conferences, like the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA conference) and others where he can meet like-minded folks.
He tells people that he enjoys the program and if they are interested, they should start with the basic composites class. If they enjoy learning the basics, they might be a good fit for working in the composites industry.
Dunn noted that AMTEC is preparing to add 17,000 square feet, and in the fall will offer a Mechatronics program, which is, industrial repair and maintenance. Machinists, welders and composites technicians also have an opportunity to take a 19 credit certificate in Mechatronics, which will eventually become a 2-year degree.
Programs like AMTEC are popping up all over the state as the community college system is becoming more responsive to industry needs. Opportunities abound for people like Nelson and others who are either starting a new career or going back to school.
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