Luke works on a machining project at Basta Boatlifts during his Youth Apprenticeship.

Op-Ed: Empowering Young People through Apprenticeships

By Luke Bizmungu | AJAC Youth Apprentice

For the longest time, I always saw myself working with machines yet I was always lost on the path which to take, that was till I found AJAC. My first experience with AJAC was Sophomore year at Lindbergh High School in Renton, Washington. Representative from AJAC came to talk about their program during my pre-engineering class (one of my few paths I tried out for me).

I didn’t really get it at the time, but then COVID hit, so I wasn’t motivated to really try it out. In the meantime, I tried classes such as Robotics and continued my pre-engineering. Fast forward to senior year, I tried out a coding class, started doing the robotics club (after COVID restrictions ended), and it all came to me that I won’t get chances like this forever.

So back in September 2021, I registered for AJAC’s zoom meeting and that little presentation changed the course of my life.

Despite my enthusiasm, I was someone with less than optimal experience with precision machining work so I had quite the learning curve compared to some of my peers.

So for a little background, I was a part of Lindbergh and Hazens’ mixed program, and it was quite a wild time with those guys. Teaching our class was our wonderful instructor Mr. Nelson (one of my favorite teachers ever). Since Mr. Nelson was my actual shop teacher at Lindbergh, it also made it easier for me to talk to as well as being able to ask for assistance.

The material really helps you get a great scope of the world of manufacturing and precision machining. In the class we went through a lot of the lore and depth of blueprints, something I had only learned the basics from in my pre-engineering classes. We learned about the layout of blueprints along with the different lines used on them. The different facets of blueprints I learned was genuinely overwhelming.

While all of us were still fresh with the blueprint work and we struggled greatly, once we got into the workshop area, I could feel the skill gap between me and my peers. Luckily, Mr. Nelson put my mind at ease and brought my skill-sets up to speed with my peers.

We got to use equipment such as calipers and micrometers, stationary mills, horizontal bandsaws, and even hand tapping tools. We had tests, assignments, and hands-on projects such as building bolt circles, phone stands, and c-clamps.

What really tested me was the transfer from school to the workplace.

When I first interviewed at Basta Boatlifts, it was really nerve racking because this was my first real professional interview and I knew the value of my other peers in comparison to myself was far greater.

Luckily I have a wonderful personality and of course my skills learned from AJAC got me to run with the big leagues. I feel like there was a big difference between classes and workplace environments, mostly in soft skills.

We need to show more focus and stricter attendance since we are there to make money as well as to learn and produce. Mistakes, whilst not total intolerance, are things that need to happen less frequently. However, we learned about blueprints, drilling, tapping, and lathes which helped me adjust to the curve.

Though I will admit not everything I’ve learned from AJAC transferred over, It’s still useful knowledge that I have on the back shelf. Also the safety lessons as well were good to know so I wouldn’t have to make these mistakes in the workplace.

Overall, I’m grateful that I took the opportunity of coming into the AJAC program. It left me with great memories in my class and I was gifted with another path to a career that I love and I’m grateful for it.

If you feel that manufacturing is a path you want to take, then I feel AJAC is a great choice to make your mark in the advanced manufacturing industry.

Thank you,

Luke Bizmungu

Production Technician (Youth) Apprentice | Basta Boatlifts

Luke measures a machined part while working at Basta Boatlifts.
Luke preps final assembly of a boatlift during work at Basta Boatlifts. Luke smiles to the camera as he operates a forklift at Basta Boatlifts