Sergiu and his wife pose for a photo after the conclusion of AJAC's 2023 apprenticeship graduation at the Museum of Flight.

One-on-One with Sergiu Copaceanu

AJAC's 2023 Adult Apprentice of the Year Award Winner

Sergiu Copaceanu greets Lynn Strickland on stage during AJAC's 2023 Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony at The Museum of Flight

10 Questions with Our Outstanding Adult Apprentice of the Year

How did you get your start in manufacturing?

I started in 2013 as an operator for a plastic injection company. In a few weeks I was promoted as a set up tech to change the molds in the injection machines. After four years, I moved into the tool room where the tool and die program started.

What drew you into becoming an AJAC apprentice?

I really liked what I saw in tool room (CNC, Wire EDM, Sinker EDM, surface grinders, etc). A lot of things were new and I wanted to know more about them. Around that time, my supervisor stopped by and asked if I wanted to join the apprenticeship. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me and also for the company so, I accepted.

You became a journeyman in AJAC’s longest apprenticeship program—Tool and Die Maker. What were the challenges of going through a program which takes five years to complete?

It was not easy to be a student, husband, and a father of two young children. The biggest challenge was the time when I had to find the balance between educating my children , supporting a growing family, and studying.

Who were your mentors either on the shop floor or in the classroom that helped shape the Tool & Die Maker you are today and what were their contributions to your growth?

I had a very good mentor on the shop floor David Moody who taught me what it takes to build a tool. He showed me how to program and run a CNC mill, wire EDM, surface grinder, etc. 

Can you describe a specific project you worked on during your apprenticeship that you’re particularly proud of?

I am really proud that I was able to build a mold on my own with minimal guidance. Also, I designed and built a fixture for production. 

What aspects of being a tool and die maker do you find the most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing for me is when I complete a mold and my tool is making good parts after testing. 

The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving—what excites you about this industry into the future?

I am waiting to see how far metal 3D printing is going to evolve, specially what surface finish they are going to bring. It is a fast and easy way to print a mold cavity for a prototype part. 

What is one piece of advice you would give an apprentice who is just starting out in their apprenticeship?

I would say don’t give up! Try to learn as much as you can from classes and from coworkers. 

There were 51 apprentices eligible to win our 2023 Outstanding Adult Apprentice of the Year award which you received. What did it mean to be at the top of your graduating class and be recognized as such?

It was a big surprise for me to get the award. I’m very proud of myself and it means that my hard work and dedication was recognized by everyone that was part of my journey. 

Now that you have completed this apprenticeship, what is next for you to accomplish?

The next thing would be to learn a new CAD software we are using at work and getting involved in mold designing.


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