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.
Connect to training – and employers hungry for new talent – in advanced manufacturing. For Trudie Dole, the pandemic has a silver lining.
She’d been interested in the AJAC Manufacturing Academy for over a year, but as a single mother of four it was hard to fit the classes into her schedule. Then her retail job was deemed nonessential and AJAC moved classes online, and Dole jumped at the opportunity.
“It was a pretty big challenge, having four kids at home and all of us doing remote learning! But even with the pandemic I was able to learn all sorts of new skills and get a job in the aerospace industry.”
A year ago Dole was looking for a change — she’d recently committed to sobriety, and after a friend introduced her to some manufacturing concepts and machines she decided she’d like to work at Boeing. She applied for a variety of entry-level positions, but her resume needed a boost. That’s when she heard about the programs at the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.
“There are programs and scholarships to help people like me retrain and find better opportunities. I didn’t have a perfect past, but I’ve dealt with that issue and AJAC still welcomed me,” she says, encouraging others to consider advanced manufacturing. “There’s more out there than just retail and the food and beverage industry.”
It’s shortly after 8 o’clock in the morning on a farm outside of Tacoma, Washington. Summer has ended and the mornings have become brisk with a layer of fog blanketing the ground. The outside temperature feels like a typical fall day in the Pacific Northwest, but inside each greenhouse, temperatures can reach nearly 85 degrees.
Just outside the greenhouse, 12 youth participating in AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy pre-apprenticeship program convene in an open building to learn their assignments for the day. These young men typically spend each weekday learning advanced manufacturing skills as they transition back to civilian life. Today—they are giving back to the communities who helped raise them.
Since 2017, AJAC has partnered with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families’ Juvenile Rehabilitation program, Pac Mountain WDC and Bates Technical College to offer incarcerated youth an opportunity to develop industry-relevant skills for advanced manufacturing including precision measuring, blueprint reading, intro to machining, metallurgy, composites, and math for manufacturing. Upon completion of the program, JR students have certifications in OSHA-10, First-Aid/CPR, Lean Manufacturing, Forklift, and Flagger, and earn up to 32 college credits through Bates Technical College.
The AJAC Members have expressed enjoying connecting with the environment, contributing to the community, and having an opportunity to learn job skills
Beginning in 2020, a new partnership with Franklin Pierce School District is further enhancing the MA program by teaching life skills and the importance of giving back at The Farm, the District’s 8-acre outdoor education site located in the suburbs of Tacoma that includes wetland and native restoration planting areas, an orchard, and 2 acres of vegetables. Experience at The Farm complements what the young men are learning about manufacturing through the development of critical leadership and teamwork skills by donating to their local community and providing for those in need.
Aaron Gibson, The Farm’s Program Assistant, works with the JR students each Thursday to harvest produce and plant new crops for the upcoming season.
“Working with the AJAC Crew has been great! They are motivated, engaged, and curious. With the help of the AJAC Crew the Farm has been able to flourish and feed numerous families this fall,” Gibson said. “The partnership has been mutually beneficial. The AJAC Members have expressed enjoying connecting with the environment, contributing to the community, and having an opportunity to learn job skills. The Farm has received a competent and reliable work crew that has allowed us to continue production and feed the community.”
Derek Jones, AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy Instructor, appreciates the opportunity for these young men to learn life skills on their road out of incarceration, “I am incredibly proud of these young men for going outside of their comfort zone to learn something they have never experienced before. Although we are here to train students for careers in advanced manufacturing, this program is more than skill development—its about developing these men to become lifelong, productive members of society. There is no better place to start than right here at The Farm. Not only are they learning how to work together as a team and independently, but produce something with their hands that will go on to help families and communities in need. It’s a win-win for them and the people we are serving here in Tacoma,” Jones said.
To learn more about the Manufacturing Academy, please visit our website.
Meet LaDante Weems—a formerly incarcerated youth and now graduate of the AJAC Juvenile Rehabilitation Manufacturing Academy program—tells his story on becoming a full-time employee at Tech Marine. We at AJAC are so proud of how far LaDante has come since his incarnation and wish him nothing but continued success in his future.
AJAC is launching a new Manufacturing Academy program in Federal Way through a partnership with the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club, Truman High School and a grant from Aspen Institute’s Pathways to Careers Fund. The Manufacturing Academy (MA) is an apprenticeship preparation program that has been offered in South Seattle and Kent prior to this latest addition.
Boys and Girls Club Youth Force Executive Director Melissa Jones is excited about the partnership and the prospects that come with it. “We believe positive youth development is a collective effort that cannot be solved by a single person, organization or company alone. That’s why it’s imperative to collaborate with others in our community to provide comprehensive programming and employment opportunities for our youth.” When asked what the goal of the new initiative is, Jones says, “Our hope is to provide an alternative career path allowing youth who choose not to pursue higher education the ability to earn a living wage.”
The Manufacturing Academy’s purpose is to give students the information, skills, and certifications needed to begin their careers in advanced manufacturing. Derek Jones, the instructor for the course, says the class is a great opportunity to give your resume the boost it needs, “The hardest part about starting a new career is getting your foot in the door. The Manufacturing Academy gives people who are willing to learn a real opportunity to change their lives.”
The newest MA addition in Federal Way will allow its students to gain access to machinery and equipment used in the industry while developing industry skills in blueprint reading, precision measurement, soldering, LEAN manufacturing, and resume development.
Chris Pierson, Director of Grants and Strategic Partnerships with AJAC, says the expansion to Federal Way is a fantastic way to cultivate growth. “AJAC is committed to diversifying talent pipelines to our employer partners and developing more equitable pathways into apprenticeship. We have been working with all of our partners to strengthen pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship pathways for youth through initiatives such as Generation Work, Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship, and other related initiatives.”
The first cohort started class, January 13, 2020, with 15 students enrolled.