Educators hit factory floors
February 28, 2013
Carson City teachers became pupils on Wednesday, touring factory floors in the area to learn the skill sets needed and opportunities available for their own bright students.Educators in two groups toured such plants as Carson City’s CGI Inc., Click Bond and Bill Miller Engineering, as well as Vineburg Machining in Mound House and both the General Electric and American AVK plants in Minden.“It’s a wonderful opportunity for teachers to be aware of manufacturing opportunities,” said Richard Stokes, Carson City School District superintendent, who was in the group touring the GE Bentley plant during the afternoon.The group there learned about the education and training, much of it math and computer-based or requiring related technological skills, that can offer young people well-paying careers.“That’s the common theme we’ve heard at all of these (manufacturing) sites,” said Ben Contine, who taught math/special education last year at Carson High School and is on a sabbatical. He said analytical skills interlace that underlying theme.Contine also said he viewed Carson City schools as having a chance to forge bonds between educators and manufacturers or other businesses because of the community’s $10 million federal Race to the Top grant.“Absolutely,” he said. “I think a major part of the grant will go to help teachers and the community work together.”As the group of about a dozen toured GE, they heard from Deb Epps, a manager of shop operations, and Paul Moore, human resources manager.In the fabrication area, Moore said that as older workers retire, young people will be needed with the skills to be CNC operators; CNS is short for computer numerically controlled.“We always need more experienced workers,” he added later. Epps stressed that the plant, which employs about 400 in manufacturing and 750 overall, is filled with people attuned to “continuous learning.” The group also met with Jim Flemming, GE plant manager. He said that in addition to training in the skill sets required, GE wants people who are eager to learn and have a good work ethic.With the GE tour group was Jonathon Begley, Click Bond director of community engagement, who helped spearhead the day’s events.He said before the tour that manufacturing knows it needs skilled people and understands it must articulate that need.The objective of the day, he said, was to build relationships between educators and manufacturers that enhance reaching that goal.