Recent growth has been happening rapidly for Parkway Industrials, and much of that can be attributed to partnering with local businesses.
Getting the business up and running has created opportunities for a lot of new student learning, according to Program Coordinator Sean Reams.
“One of the program’s goals is to produce and sell actual parts that manufacturing companies will use in their own products and processes,” he said. “Sales revenue will be used to operate and expand the program, and some of it will be used to help graduating seniors as they move on to postsecondary education or join the workforce.”
The enterprise that the students are running is not only making parts for companies. From start to finish, every aspect of the project is something for students to learn and do. The students work from a structured business model that they have created, they make the budget, pay attention to the costs, design not only the project but the marketing and sales elements, they handle customer service and project management, scheduling of the project and all the parts that go on behind the scenes. While the word ‘manufacturing’ conjures up the floor of the industries, these students are learning all facets of what goes into making the business successful.
Many local businesses have been very supportive, and the new program is developing relationships with more of them as time goes on. The students of the enterprise presented their work and delivered an order of shafts to the American Refinery Group (ARG) last week.
Reams said, “Jarrett Machine Company has been a huge help – giving the new program technical advice and occasionally loaning its machine shop tooling for the CNC mills. They even donated some of the aluminum for an early in-house project.”
Several of the manufacturing students have been out to tour and talk to people at Zippo, Case, and ARG. Marketing students have also been able to spend targeted time with people at Protocol 80, a local marketing firm specializing in business-to-business marketing for manufacturing companies.
Most of the program’s students are fully scheduled with other classes, but there is a dedicated group of students who have been willing to squeeze time into their schedule for the program this year. Teachers in marketing, engineering, business, and machine have also been willing to integrate some of the program’s business operations into their curriculum, and those students’ efforts in those classes have been invaluable. The new manufacturing program will be listed as a class in next year’s registration guide, so more students will have an opportunity to participate in running the business moving forward.
Close Racing Supply, in Eldred, has also been very supportive.
“Students designed and machined control arm parts for them a few months ago.” Reams said. “That job has turned into a couple more, and Parkway Industrial is wrapping up their most recent job for the company.”
And, the students are getting ready to get started on a job for Zippo. In fact, according to Reams, one of Zippo’s project engineers came to the school to talk about the details of that job about a week ago. And, like the ARG job, that project is going to have students learning to work with a material different from the ones they have worked with in the past.
Reams added, “This program is creating an opportunity for students that did not exist before.” Napoleon Engineering Services, in Olean, NY, is also interested in the work the students are doing. The students have been invited to tour the company’s manufacturing facilities.
Case and Allegheny Bradford have both expressed an interest in working with Bradford’s students and the new manufacturing program.
The Bradford Area High School is supported in this endeavor by a $200,000 Manufacturing Training to Career grant to launch a manufacturing enterprise to enhance the development of students for manufacturing careers. Some of the needed components were already in place at the high school: business, engineering, and manufacturing technology.
Skills and experience attained through this collaboration builds trust between the companies looking to hire and the candidates for jobs. This program sets local students up with community contacts, industry experience, and the skills necessary to immediately secure positions with local manufacturers.
As a work-readiness program, students put the coursework they learn into practical use. As this is happening, job placement and future talent is cultivated in the local community. Students are mentored through collaborative exchange, gathering essential skills and experience far beyond the classroom.