Students learn marketable career skills in manufacturing to meet the demand for skilled workers
John Doiron, Carson High School’s Career and Technical Education’s new manufacturing instructor, stood in front of the Carson Area Manufacturers Forum in early June to outline his plan for the manufacturing program and to ask for their support in sharing their knowledge to develop curriculum, being guest speakers in class and inviting students in to their facilities for field trips, internships and other work-based learning experiences.
It’s all part of Doiron’s master plan to unite CHS CTE’s new four year program and local manufacturers who are competing with the likes of Tesla and others for skilled technical workers.
“We want to make sure students have the best curriculum and the most needed skill sets prioritized by employers based on relevancy,” he said. “Having students able to go to a shop and see what they’re learning in action and apply their learnings will give both the students and employers confidence in their abilities.”
Doiron’s mandate is complex – follow rigorous coursework laid out by the State Department of Education while ensuring students have hands-on shop experience to apply theoretical learning. All this is in keeping with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Learn and Earn Pathway program designed to offer career pathways with on- and off-ramps for continuing education, from high school through advanced university degrees.
“We will teach students the art of using a lathe, mill and other power equipment,” he said. “They’ll learn how the machines’ computers work so they can program and repair them, as well as understand CNC applications to get them ready for the workforce and/or college right away and beyond.”
Doiron said CHS CTE is working closely with Western Nevada College to ensure students gain proficiency and a pathway from high school to college. Students can earn college credits and national industry certifications while still in high school that will articulate towards higher learning, whether conducted immediately following high school graduation, or later in life.
Doiron and Richard Kale, CTE consultant for Carson City School District, have visited a number of area manufacturers and distribution centers including Vineburg Machining in Moundhouse, Micromanipulator, Webstaurant in Dayton, REDCO and Aloha Medicinals, gathering information.
“We’re ready to help,” Gordon Gagnon, vice president of REDCO, said. “On-site visits, job shadowing – we welcome the opportunity to contribute to the program.”
REDCO manufactures a wide range of custom rubber products for such diverse industries as medical supplies to agricultural, automotive and sports equipment, among others. The company, founded in San Leandro, Calif. in 1948, relocated to Carson City in 1990.
“We have the full spectrum of opportunities,” Gagnon said. “We can show students the progression from entry level factory production work requiring little to no additional education, to highly skilled programmers and operators who can read blueprints and make adjustments using tools and CNC programmers writing codes.”
Gagnon said REDCO has a small staff of long-time employees, so he doesn’t feel the dearth of skilled labor many other larger manufacturers see, but if he were tasked with adding an additional shift of skilled technicians to increase capacity, he’d be in for trouble finding them.
“We usually get our factory workers from temp agencies, and even those are getting scarce,” he said.
“Agencies are taking longer to come up with smaller numbers of choices for employers, so any way I can help get this program started, we’re ready.”
Doiron, a U.S. Navy retired chief petty officer, graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor’s of Science in professional aeronautics in 2007, and completed his masters of science and management degree in 2014. He spent the better part of his career in aviation and electrical technology, working for Northrup Grumman Technical Services at the Fallon Training Range and the Navy’s Top Gun school as a maintenance supervisor before changing gears to begin teaching advanced manufacturing at Truckee Meadows Community College.
“The opportunities and responsibilities of teaching are great,” he said. “It’s up to me to keep hitting the fire and sparking a student’s interest,” he said. “This is the future, and I’m prepared to teach them manufacturing, from how to measure with hand tools to programming to automation and advanced robotics.”