You’ve heard about Work-based Learning (WBL), one of the technical high schools’ flagship programs that allow students to leave the school building and work for companies during the school day, gain hands-on career development experience, and often get paid. But what is a typical day like for a student in WBL?
We got an inside look, visiting Kim Collins-Horner, HR Specialist at Stanley Engineered Fastening in Danbury, CT, and WBL student Carlos Mogollon Torres, a senior in the Precision Machining Technology program at Henry Abbott Technical High School. Here’s what they had to say:
Q: First, a little background. What does Stanley Engineer Fastening produce?
Kim: We are a branch of Stanley Black and Decker that manufacturers heavily-engineered fasteners for applications in aerospace and automotive industries. Our machine shop makes makes installation tooling for our Heli-coil fasteners. Basically, a Heli-coil locks a screw into whatever materials you are using. In fact, you’ll find 1.5 million of them on every airplane.
Q: We’re you excited to come work here?
Carlos: 100 percent. I was excited to work with a real company – to learn about it in school, and then see how it works in real life. It was a natural transition from school to work. I was surprised that the vocabulary they use here was the same that we use for the shop machines. It just differs based on the part your making.
Plus, you make money right off the bat during school time and can save up for things.
Q: Explain Stanley Engineered Fastening’s involvement with the Work-based Learning program?
Kim: We started a relationship with Abbott Tech in 2017. Someday I’d like to explore expanding to other tech schools. I attended some of the Career Technical Education Advisory Committee meetings and learned about how other employers were using the program. I knew we had to get students in before 18 years of age because every 18-year-old in a tech school, that has these skills, has a job at that age. Ultimately, it was a company-wide commitment to bring in students at 17 years of age. Currently we just work with one student, Carlos, but are hoping for another one soon.
Q: What is a typical day like in Work-based Learning?
Carlos: During the shop cycle, I go to school and then come [to Stanley Engineered Fastening] from about 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. During the academic cycle, I’m here after school from 3 to 5:00 p.m. I get to shadow the CNC lathe – what the machine is doing, how to set it up, how to inspect parts after they are made. Sometimes I get to set up the machine and learn about codes and materials. It’s a mix of mentoring and hands-on work.
Q: Do you feel this experience has supplemented your school work in a positive way?
Carlos: Absolutely. I’m learning about G-codes, for instance, and my teacher hasn’t covered that yet, and I’m learning it here. Sometimes I get to teach my classmates things. There are two machines that I’m learning about – Tornos and Tsugami. I’m really excited to learn about the Tsugami. The brands are new to me, but it’s the same CNC we have a school that work by themselves.
Q: What is the ultimate benefit of hiring a technical high school student for the company?
Kim: The older generation has so many skills that they can pass on. We foresee many retirements in the next several years. In fact, that’s that case in manufacturing no matter where you go. There’s a mass exodus of talent. It can also be hard to find qualified employees. We realize it’s all about community engagement, and particularly about getting young people interested in manufacturing. This past October we had 41 students visit from Abbott Tech as part of our Maker Month.
Q: What are your future plans?
Carlos: Right now I’m saving up for a car since I just got my license. I think I might go to college for mechanical engineering, or stay [at Stanley] full time.
Kim: Stanley has tuition reimbursement for employees.
Q: What would you say to a student or parent who is considering attending a technical high school?
Carlos: Definitely choose a tech school. You walk out of high school with a career that you’ll enjoy, and school is fun too. Personally, my mom thinks this is really cool and thinks it’s great I got in with a big company early on. I’m learning a lot and hopefully will advance to an engineer someday.