An event was held on October 24, 2023 to announce the launch of a student-run manufacturing enterprise at Titusville High School – with support of a PA Manufacturing Training to Career grant. The gathering included Titusville Area School District administration, high school faculty and students, along with Representative Lee James, NWIRC, and local manufacturers. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) recently awarded a $200,000 Manufacturing Training-to-Career (MTTC) grant to the Titusville Area School District (TASD) for the launch of a student-run manufacturing enterprise at the high school.

The program will enhance the development of students for manufacturing careers by providing the opportunity to participate in a manufacturing enterprise that will make actual parts, deliver services, and be an active member 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 skills, utilize manufacturing technologies, and establish relationships with area businesses.

“This grant will enable us to take several of our career and technical education programs within the high school 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 Stephanie Keebler, Superintendent.

“Essential for Rocket Manufacturing is the collaborative partnership among the Titusville Area School District, regional manufacturers, and NWIRC,” said Bob Zaruta, President, Northwest Industrial Resource Center. “NWIRC’s 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 stream and also has potential to ease capacity challenges.”

The new student-run manufacturing enterprise, known as Rocket 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 advanced 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, 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.

“Congratulations to the high school for taking on this initiative. It really is going to set students apart from others applying for jobs,” said Matt Lucco, President/CEO, Precision Profiles. “Students will take what they learn in the classroom and be able to see practical application and get their minds around the whole picture and how it fits together. The defense industrial base staffing has been declining and all the companies, like ours, in this space are looking for people who are hungry to work and want to show up on time. We’ll train you on what you need to know that you don’t know.”

“We are thrilled to have this program at Titusville High School because we’ll have a pool of future employees to draw from who will stay in their community, make great wages, and learn wonderful skills. We do a lot of defense work, it’s important work so we’re excited to be part of it,” said Renee Thompson, Co-Owner, Grand Valley Manufacturing.

The manufacturing industry has historically been the backbone of Pennsylvania’s economy and currently employs more than 560,000 individuals across the Commonwealth. Training-to-Career grants support projects that result in short-term work-readiness, job placement, or the advancement of manufacturing. The Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant program works collaboratively with local manufacturers to identify and teach missing essential skills for entry level applicants seeking manufacturing employment, engage youth or those with barriers to career opportunities in manufacturing, and or advance capacity for local or regional manufacturers.


Photo from event announcing student-run manufacturing enterprise at Titusville High School
Numerous community partners and stakeholders were represented at the announcement including Titusville Area School District administration, faculty, and students; NWIRC, manufacturers, Pitt Titusville Manufacturing Assistance Center, Titusville Community Development Agencies, PA Manufacturing Extension Partnership, PA Department of Community & Economic Development, and PA Representative Lee James.