July 27, 2014 Written by Amanda Whitesell Daily Press & Argus
Jacob McCall had his fair share of unglamorous jobs — working at a day care and a hardware store as well as serving up sandwiches at Subway.
Like most high school students he simply didn’t have the skill set for more advanced positions. That is until he enrolled in an industrial technology program at Pinckney Community High School.
“The No. 1 thing I learned is CNC programming,” he said. “I’m talking to guys in their 40s with kids, and their eyes just widen and they say, ‘Really? You know how to do that?”
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McCall’s first day as an electrical chemical machinist at AB Heller Manufacturing in Milford was June 2 he was hired. day after he graduated from Pinckney Community High School
“Lately, I’ve been receiving lots of emails from employers looking to hire my students,” said industrial technology instructor Mark Stein.
The demand stems from companies’ desire to hire more skilled machinists, said Mike Horn of Milford-based Kennedy Industries, which provides pump, valve and control services. Horn hired two 2013 graduates of the Pinckney program — Jason VanEizenga and Lucas Gross, who work as a CNC machinist and welder, respectively.
“It’s good these kids are getting hands-on training for the field they’re going into,” Horn said.
The Livingston Educational Service Agency program, open to all Livingston County public high school students and students of Whitmore Lake High School, aims at giving students the technical skills they need to get.
David Prokopp, a 2014 Pinckney graduate, was offered a job Wednesday at Brighton-based Bradhart Products. He said he was given the offer just several hours after the interview and will start Aug. 11.
“I couldn’t have done it without that program and Mark Stein,” he said.
New equipment — a Haas computer numerical control tool room mill and four Miller Dynasty Welding Systems, purchased with $24,000 in bond dollars — have also given the program a boost. Previous welding equipment dated back to 1975.
Stein said without the support of the district’s Board of Education, the program wouldn’t be successful. As a teen interested in industrial arts, he obtained his training through an apprenticeship, since he said his high school cut back on support for associated programs.
A new six-week advanced manufacturing workshop this summer gave 14 of Stein’s selected students the opportunity to further their training at the high school without cost, thanks to a number of corporate sponsorships.
Students practiced their skills working with various machines, and crafted a custom universal hitch attachment, with the help of a Hamburg Township engineer.
Brendan Prast, a Whitmore Lake High School student, said he hopes his experience this summer, paired with future classes at Pinckney Community High School, will help him follow in his father’s career footsteps.
“I’d never worked with machines like this before I came into this program,” he said.
Sponsors included the Gene Haas Foundation, Miller Electric Manufacturing, Hatch Stamping, Bradhart Products and Kennedy Industries. Flexible Metal Inc. of Hamburg Township donated stainless steel, and Brighton NC Machine provided aluminum.