Bradford Area School District (BASD), Bradford Area High School (BAHS)) and Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC) hosted a formal announcement Friday, April 8 for the PA Manufacturing Training to Career Grant ($200,000) awarded to launch a student-run manufacturing enterprise.

“This grant will enable us to take several of our career/technical education programs to a higher-level having students work to meet needs of local manufacturers by producing actual products. We have been listening to local manufacturing companies and are committed to meeting their needs and helping them connect with a future workforce” said Katy Pude, BASD Superintendent.

BAHS Principal, David Ray, said the heart of the community is manufacturing in order to advance innovation and this program will build upon the relationships that the school currently has with industry. He explained the vision of the program as creating a real business to serve manufacturers. “We’ll take the silos we have at the high school among various programs like business education, engineering technology, and machine technology- and bring them together as an enterprise so students can work collaboratively as a business.”

Program supporters, Senator Cris Dush and Representative Martin Causer, were on hand for the announcement and check presentation. Dush, speaking to the manufacturers in attendance, said he was grateful for the support of industry to work with the students to give them an opportunity to contribute to their business and provide them experiences and ability to think outside the box. Representative Causer said, “in Harrisburg we know it’s critical to focus on manufacturing and we are constantly focusing on jobs and workforce development.” He noted it’s important to be sure people have the right skills – and this type of partnership is  key.

Kevryn Dixon, Reliability Manager at American Refining Group (ARG), said she looks at this opportunity for students from two perspectives. She was a machine shop student back when she attended BAHS so she knows the impact this program can have. And, now working for a manufacturing company, she is looking forward to hiring students from this program in the future. “This program shows the community working together and will have benefits for years to come,” she said.

Tim Bean, managing partner and CFO of Control Chief Wireless Solutions and Eric Parish, engineering manager at Zippo, also expressed their support of the program and are looking forward to the benefits the program will bring for the students and companies in the future.

The new student-run manufacturing enterprise, BAHS Manufacturing, puts the information learned in their coursework to practical use as students produce actual parts, deliver services, and add value as part of the supply chain for local manufacturers. Over the course of an academic school year, students will learn about and perform different job functions in manufacturing, develop essential life-long skills, utilize advance manufacturing technologies, and build relationships with local companies. At the same time this work readiness is occurring, capacity for local manufacturers is advancing, a short-term solution to job placement is underway, future talent pipeline issues are being addressed, and the next generation of manufacturing business leaders is being cultivated. Initial positions of the student-run enterprise will include Production Manager, Engineering Manager, Machinists, Business Manager, and Marketing Manager. Through this experience, students will interact with local manufacturers, understand their requirements,  key processes and performance metrics for production, quality, and on-time delivery, and help advance manufacturing capacity. Through a collaborative exchange, students will have the opportunity to be mentored, gain expert insight, and develop essential and advanced manufacturing skills. The working relationships established and developed will position the students for future employment opportunities.

Essential for BAHS Manufacturing is the collaborative partnership among BASD, area manufacturers, Bradford Area Alliance, and NWIRC. NWIRC is one of seven PA Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) and is positioned to be a connector between education and industry in this initiative. “Our mission is to respond to the needs of manufacturers in the region to help their businesses grow, and this program responds to their need for building a future talent pipeline. We are working to replicate this model at other schools throughout the region,” said Robert Zaruta, NWIRC President/CEO.

Governor Tom Wolf recently announced funding support for this initiative from the  Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development Manufacturing Training to Career Grant Program. “Manufacturing has long had a key role in the commonwealth’s history,” said Gov. Wolf. “This Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career funding will boost high school students’ interest in modern manufacturing career opportunities and ensure the future of this important industry in Pennsylvania.”