Meet Connor Snell, a Production Technician (Youth Apprentice) through the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC).

Connor launched his career in manufacturing after receiving an offer from WEMCO, Inc., a Spokane-based manufacturer that specializes in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of overhead cranes for material handling, automated aerospace tooling, precision fabrication, and complex CNC machining.

Connor attended Shadle Park High School in Spokane, where was inspired by his shop teacher to pursue a career in the region’s advanced manufacturing industries.

Now in his first full year, Connor has been given the opportunity to train with WEMCO’s top machinist and fabricators, while learning the theory behind his work during AJAC’s apprenticeship classes.

Connor is expected to graduate from his apprenticeship in 2022, with goals of enrolling in AJAC’s four-year machinist apprenticeship program upon completion of his Youth Apprenticeship.

To learn more about AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program, please visit: https://www.ajactraining.org/youth/

AJAC Machinist apprentice, Mallory Martindale, was invited to speak on a panel regarding women in nontraditional occupations hosted by WANTO. Mallory is nearly complete with her four-year machining apprenticeship, and shared her experiences about how she started in the industry, and how local communities can improve their outreach strategies to encourage more women to pursue careers in manufacturing.

About WANTO: The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant helps to expand pathways for women to enter and lead in all industries. In 2020, the WANTO grant program awarded $4,100,000 to six community-based organizations to increase women’s employment in apprenticeship programs and nontraditional occupations.

In-case you missed it, Mallory was recently interviewed by the Everett Herald to talk about her journey into manufacturing.

Nyck Davis spent his afternoons measuring objects around his house. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Nyck to reimagine himself, not as a former automotive technician at Mercedes Benz, but as a future employee of Blue Origin.

Nyck’s fortune was waiting to be told. He heard about the Manufacturing Academy from a friend who recently graduated from AJAC’s pre-apprenticeship program. He encouraged him to apply since he needed a new direction—a new skillset—that could attract some of the top aerospace companies in the state.

“I knew you could always make some crazy things being a machinist. It blows my mind knowing how much work goes into machining. You have to study the blueprints, do all the math, figure out how to set-up the machine and what cutters to use,” Davis said.

The Manufacturing Academy provided Nyck with a creative outlet to hone his skills and understand how things are made from raw materials.

I keep saying it and I’ll never stop saying it, I will never have the job I have now without the AJAC program.

Troy Ironmonger, AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy instructor worked with Nyck and his peers to prepare them for a career in advanced manufacturing, “Nyck’s drive to become a machinist was evident from the first day. He was able to build on the skills he learned in his high school shop class, as an automotive technician, and apply those to our class,” Ironmonger said.

As the Manufacturing Academy program came to a close, Nyck began his employment search, looking for companies that could elevate his foundational machining knowledge.

His sights were set on one company—Blue Origin. “I applied to eight or nine different positions and eventually landed on apprentice machinist. Luckily, it was announced the last week of class that Blue Origin is now a sponsor of the AJAC program,” Davis said. “Timing wise, I got extremely lucky and I ended up landing the apprentice machinist job.”

Six weeks after becoming a full-time employee at Blue Origin, Nyck was ready to begin his career as an AJAC machinist apprentice. His first two quarters covered engineering drawings and shop algebra, two concepts Nyck became familiar with in the Manufacturing Academy. Now in his third quarter, Nyck is learning the theory behind precision machining, including manual machining, tolerances, speeds and feeds, and parts finishing.

Looking back on his journey from becoming unemployed, to landing his dream job, Nyck is humbled by those who gave their time to grow his craft, “I am super excited to be a part of this program. I keep saying it and I’ll never stop saying it, I will never have the job I have now without the AJAC program. If you’re thinking about getting into the AJAC apprenticeship, I would say do it! It’s completely worth it. If you have what you want to do in mind and you work hard to get there, you will not regret it!”

To learn more about AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy program, please visit: www.ManufacturingAcademy.org.

This article was originally written and published by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)

One of the many benefits of youth placement in least restrictive community facilities is the opportunity to receive education and vocational training in the community, sometimes under the wing of community members with lived experience. Derek Jones is a shining example of community members going above and beyond to support youth in our care.

Oakridge Community Facility provides youth with the opportunity to join the Manufacturing Academy, a 12-week pre-apprenticeship with certifications that prepare youth for entry-level positions in the manufacturing industry. Derek manages the program and provides hands-on instruction to the youth participants, but his support for the young people doesn’t end there.

“Derek is always willing to teach and help. If you don’t understand, he will meet you until you get it,” said one youth.

Derek is a mentor, confidant, and friend to every young person that crosses his path. He is passionate about not only teaching youth vocational skills but also providing a safe space where they can truly flourish and grow. He talks with youth about his experiences with life after release, fatherhood, and responsibility while encouraging them to transform their lives for the better.

“He has had a huge impact on my life because he was always willing to help me when I needed guidance or when I needed someone to talk to,” said another youth.

Derek’s instruction and impact have been felt throughout the many Manufacturing Academy cohorts of young adults who he continues to mentor even after their release from Juvenile Rehabilitation.

You can read the entire article on DYCF’s blog here

Hector Martinez | AJAC Youth Apprentice

Hector Martinez enrolled in AJAC’s two-year Automation Technician (Youth) Apprenticeship program in 2019 after receiving an offer from Yakima Chief Hops. Hector went to Toppenish High School and was also enrolled in Yakima Valley Tech’s automation program where he learned about AJAC’s apprenticeship.

The South Central Washington STEM Network featured Hector in their 2021 February Newsletter as their “Apprenticeship Spotlight”.

You can read the entire newsletter here.

About the South Central Washington STEM Network:

The South Central Washington STEM Network is comprised of leaders from the worlds of education, business, and industry in Yakima and Kittitas counties and portions of Grant and Klickitat counties who are dedicated to developing the learning and career opportunities within our region in the expanding areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.