Manufacturers and Teachers Learn from Each Other
Teacher externship ‘worth its weight in gold’
By Mary deManbey
As a technology and engineering teacher at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Mike Bono was stumped by his students’ questions about careers in manufacturing, because he had never worked outside the classroom.
At Seconn Fabrication in Waterford, vice president Joe Fayan needed help to improve the manufacturer’s instructional materials.
Mike and Joe found what they were looking for in a special summer program that CBIA’s Education Foundation administers on behalf of the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (COT-RCNGM), a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence.
Mike applied to participate in an “externship”: which is like an internship, except that it’s for teachers.
Joe also signed Seconn up to participate and take in an extern, and the match was made.
Over a four-week period this summer, Bono immersed himself in setting up training protocols for Seconn’s employees while he learned about how their products are made, from start to finish.
“Small businesses like ours don’t always have the resources to develop standard work procedures and training materials,” said Joe. “I thought Mike could help us because of his engineering expertise and his teaching knowledge. It’s great for small businesses to have this opportunity.”
“It was a huge learning experience for me,” says Bono. “I started teaching straight out of school, so I never had the opportunity to work in industry. Seconn’s Jason Candage taught me how to use robotic welding and helped me understand how the company is automating. I also worked with Jason Pflomm, Seconn’s engineering designer, who was working on the tooling aspect of the automation to make a line of smokers (one of Seconn’s products). It was nice to see how a product is designed and then made and iron out all the wrinkles and make tweaks to the design when something didn’t work.”
Seconn benefitted because Bono developed “a library of great reference materials for us,” says Fayan, “and guidelines to use going forward that will help us standardize our processes and improve our overall performance.”
The externship experience provides teachers with the opportunity to learn about the products their host company makes and the processes used to make them, as well as the different types of jobs and careers that are available to qualified individuals.
Teachers take this knowledge back to their classrooms and students, incorporating real-world examples into the curriculum.
Before beginning any externship, the teacher meets with the employer to make sure the externship is a good fit. They also discuss what projects the teacher will be working on.
Externships Help Students Too
Teachers must design a work-based learning project for their students based on the externship. Bono is drawing on his experience of creating protocols for Seconn employees to have his students develop their own work standards before they give their work to him.
“I want my students to develop their own standards: the way I developed standards for Seconn: and to assess their own work,” says Bono. “They will set their own rubric, their own criteria. When they try out their drawings, if it doesn’t work, they will know they need to rework it.
“As a teacher, this is ideal because students can look at their work and notice mistakes before they hand their assignment in.”
Fayan says Seconn would participate in another externship. “No doubt; in fact I told Mike to apply again.”
Would Bono give up another four weeks of his summer next year? “Absolutely, it was great,” he says. “The most important component is linking up with the right company. I got so much out of this because of Joe and the two Jasons; that’s what made it for me. It’s worth its weight in gold.”
CBIA would like to thank the following companies for their participation in the COT-RCNGM externship program:
Seconn Manufacturing Group
US Hybrid Corporation
International Transfer Service
Mary deManbey is a program manager at CBIA’s Education Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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