Meet Rachel Bertapelle, one of 19 AJAC Industrial Maintenance Technician apprentices at Agri Beef in Toppenish, Washington. Rachel enrolled in AJAC’s 8,000 hour program this past winter and is now in the second quarter of her apprenticeship.
AJAC sat down with Rachel to learn how she got her start in the maintenance field including her steps to becoming a registered apprentice.
What Is Your Job at Washington Beef?
I am a maintenance mechanic with a primary focus of my work being in the truck shop servicing fleet vehicles and also working on preventative maintenance in the hide plant.
How Did You Begin Your Career?
Prior to becoming a mechanic, I worked as a secretary for the Department of Corrections. I realized I didn’t want to work behind a computer for my whole life so I made a career change and applied to Perry Tech’s Agriculture Equipment Technician program.
How Did You Learn About the AJAC Industrial Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship?
My supervisor Craig approached me prior to the program starting asking me if I was interested. I knew it would help broaden my skills in this field and better understand the industrial maintenance side of the industry.
You Started the Apprenticeship in Winter 2020, How Have Things Gone So Far?
The apprenticeship program has been great so far. I’ve learned quite a bit, particularly on the mechanic side and new techniques I did not learn at Perry Tech. I’m not just focusing on engines and motors, I’m learning more about the pumps and other equipment commonly found in an industrial maintenance environment.
Has Your Classroom Experience Translated to Your Job Duties?
The first quarter class was print reading which I did not have prior experience in. Learning how to read them and understanding the correct way to put together a part is very helpful for what I’m doing. Since then, I’ve been able to read blueprints for our machines out in the hide plant. That’s been very helpful!
Who Is Your Instructor and How Has Their Teaching Techniques Helped Your Growth?
My instructor is Steven Matzcak and he’s great. He’s a really funny guy! Steven helps with the terminology and everything that comes with it. He doesn’t hesitate to explain anything in more detail especially if an apprentice is struggling.
How Has the Maintenance Field Evolved?
For a maintenance technician, there is a growing need to understand electrical, particularly with computers and their integration into the field. Computer systems are incredibly complex and when working with a specific piece of equipment, understanding the electrical workings is more prevalent than ever.