When you walk into AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy at South Seattle College-Georgetown Campus the first thing you’ll notice is the intimidating computer numerical controlled (CNC) and manual machines scattered around the classroom, the second thing you notice is a group of students operating these machines.
Geoff Coles-Lelievre guides one of his fellow students on a Sharpe VS 1640 Conventional Lathe, giving him little pieces of advice while still letting him take the reins on the operation. It’s hard to imagine that just eight weeks ago Coles-Lelievre had never operated a machine like this and now, is well on his way to a career in manufacturing.
Geoff is thriving in the program, making parts with precision, leading by example, and tutoring his classmates. Geoff explains that the reason for his success is the focused nature of the program, saying “Having a program that’s focus is to get you into an entry level position is different from my experiences at a traditional university. Traditionally, you have a lot of prerequisites that aren’t directly related to what your major is. Sometimes that distracts or gets in the way of what you want to do.”
Geoff is self-described as “mechanically inclined” and has a background as an automotive technician. He has benefited greatly from the hands on approach the Manufacturing Academy provides, “Some people learn better by going in there and getting their hands dirty and doing things instead of being told how to do it.”
“There is so much material to cover over the ten weeks but there’s so many opportunities once you get out into the manufacturing field that the only way to go from here is up. There is just so many options after you get this training, it’s like ‘where do you want to go, you can work for anyone.’”
While the ten week program may seem brief, instructor Troy Ironmonger says the amount students learn makes the program invaluable for someone who wants to start a career in manufacturing. “We touch on blueprint reading, precision measuring, conventional and CNC machining, physics, electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, we learn how to draw, we apply that to CNC machining and CNC laser cutting and by the end of ten weeks we are producing industrial maintenance technician students and machine operators.”
Geoff is set to graduate from the program in late August and hopes to take what he has learned to the advanced manufacturing industry, hopefully manufacturing parts for rockets and satellites, “this is a field where it’s easy to get a career and not just a job.”