Students from area high schools visited Anoka Technical College on Thursday, Feb. 15, to express their interest in manufacturing careers, as part of a community-wide initiative.
Known as Anoka Technical College and Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Career Intent Signing Day, the second annual event brought community leaders, employers and many instructors to Anoka Tech’s campus to promote high-paying careers in the manufacturing industry.
John LeTourneau, director of manufacturing for the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, and Kent Hanson, Ph.D., president of Anoka Technical College, welcomed guests into the machine tool lab at Anoka Tech. LeTourneau and Hanson spoke to the strengths of the local industry in Anoka County, and introduced several guest speakers. Among them were two students who planned to explore manufacturing as a career choice: George Bogar, of Liberia, from S.T.E.P. High School, and Zayd Abdullahi, an Anoka Tech student.
“When they had the first manufacturing career signing last year, I was thinking of going into accounting, but I realized I didn’t want to just sit and work at a computer all day. I wanted to work with math, but it was more than that,” said Abdullahi. “I wanted to move. I wanted to make things. I wanted to work with my hands.”
Abdullahi is now studying Machine Trades at Anoka Tech, taking classes in CAD and blueprint reading, as well as metrology. He studies the technical trades, while also working a job as an intern for a local manufacturing company.
“The projects we do in class are actually things we will need for our toolbox that we’ll use in our jobs,” said Abdullahi.
In the program, students use heavy machinery to work on mechanical punches and make their own hammers, while also learning how to mill and drill. They train on progressively harder projects, while also studying the math, science and theory behind the work.
“When I came in to Machining class, I thought it looked easy. It is a whole world of difficulty,” said Wyatt Oldenburg, a student at Anoka Tech. “It gets harder as you go, and you learn more tricks of the trade. The training is really worthwhile. It makes us entirely self-dependent.”
To mark the occasion, LeTourneau and Anoka Technical College Director of Training Jon Olson read a proclamation, declaring Feb. 15, 2018 as Anoka Technical College and Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Career Intent Signing Day. The proclamation called for the community to build pathways to manufacturing careers, to work together to meet local employment needs, and to create an inclusive environment to foster a productive workforce.
“As time goes on, these students are going to find themselves in a very good position to secure good manufacturing jobs,” said Anoka Tech Machine Shop Instructor Brendon Paulson. “Students are learning about manufacturing here, instead of going elsewhere, and they are applying to companies in the community. It’s a win-win.”
The signing day was made possible by community partnerships, with support from many organizations including the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, the S.T.E.P. Secondary Technical Education Program, Anoka High School, the Minnesota Precision Manufacturers Association, Zero Zone, Altron, and Mate Precision Tooling and Anoka Technical College.