Photo of UAA at Crawford Tech graduations Winter 2023
Front (L-R): Crawford Tech Assistant Director, Mike Costa; UAA (NWIRC) Program Coordinator, Dawn Bailey; Student Shannon Vernier; Student William Hough; Back (L-R): Instructor Kyle Gates; Student Jonathan Finck; Student Aaron Tomcho; Instructor Tim Barickman; Arc of Crawford County training and job coach, Lucas Morian

The Uniquely Abled Academy at Crawford Tech held a Winter 2023 completion ceremony on February 1st recognizing students of the very first cohort of this new program to the region, and first in Pennsylvania. This first group of students started their CNC training program last September, and in addition to their technical training, have participated in job shadows, experience day tours, and job readiness instruction.

Students completing the UAA program include (top L-R): Jonathan Finck, William (Drew) Hough, (bottom L-R) Aaron Tomcho, and Shannon Vernier.

The ceremony was moderated by Dawn Bailey, UAA Program Coordinator. Numerous community organizations were recognized for their collaboration for this important initiative, including:  Crawford Tech as the host-school, Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC), Arc of Crawford County, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), Northwest PA JobConnect, Careerlink, Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance, Starn Marketing, and Northwestern PA Chapter of NTMA. Numerous manufacturers supported the program with planning and providing job shadowing and facility tours throughout the program, including Starn Tool & Manufacturing, Greenleaf Corporation, Highpoint Tool, Acutec Precision Aerospace, Channellock, and Pinnacle Mold. District Director for Senator Michele Brooks, Christi Martone, presented the students with a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of Senator Brooks and the PA Senate.

The UAA at Crawford Tech is 100% supported by the Employment and Training Administration of the US Department of Labor as part of an award totaling $60,320 with 0% and $0 funded from non-governmental sources. The program also received a $10,000 America Works Mini-Grant via the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  

UAA is a training program to create career opportunities, with family sustaining wages, for young adults with high-functioning autism by matching unique abilities with high-demand jobs. Through community partnerships with educators, agencies, and manufacturers, the end goals are to provide skills and career readiness to an unrealized population of capable individuals and to address workforce needs of manufacturers. Upon completion of training, the program seeks to match math- and computer-savvy young adults with autism to careers as entry level Computer Numerical Control (CNC) operators at local manufacturing companies.

The program was founded by Ivan Rosenberg, a managing partner with InVista Associates helping companies with organizational performance. As he was hearing more and more about the dire need for CNC Operators in manufacturing, he realized that his own two children (young adults with high-functioning autism) had many of the characteristics and abilities required for the position. Thus, the Uniquely Abled Project was born. To quote one of the UAA program flyers, it’s “A new program for a new way of thinking. Because the words we use shape the way we think, when looking through the lens of the word ‘disabled’, we tend to think about what’s missing in a person. As a result, we often miss seeing the unique capabilities these people have. The mission of The Uniquely Abled Project is to shift the paradigm of thinking from ‘disabled’ to ‘uniquely abled’. It starts with an innovative job-training program for people with high functioning autism – The Uniquely Abled Academy.”

The next cohort is scheduled to begin in September 2023 and applications are now being accepted. Contact Program Coordinator, Dawn Bailey, for more information at