JACKSON, Mich. — Teens in Jackson are getting hands-on experience with skilled trades. The Jackson Area Manufacturers Association is hosting a two-week day camp for kids who are interested in skilled trades.
Held at the Jackson Area Career Center, children in grades seven through nine get hands on experience with computer-assisted design, metal fabrication, blueprint reading, welding and machining using hands-on equipment. This year they are also learning how to make a solar car.
They also get taught by industry professionals such as Osias Clippard, who is a tool and dye apprentice at TAC Manufacturing in Jackson.
“I am here to help teach these kids what it means to be in the manufacturing field,” he said. “I think it is so important to help bring in the next generation of machinists and welders and even engineers, if they decide to go down that road. I started in a similar program at a very young age learning about manufacturing, and I think it’s just important to pay it forward.”
There are more than 600,000 workers employed in Michigan that are in the manufacturing sector, which ranks just behind health care among the top industries in the state.
This year, Clippard has 23 kids in his program. According to the association that runs the camp, attendance has doubled this year compared to last year.
“We got kids running mills on their own, and there’s kids helping teach other kids how to run mills,” he said. “It’s very basic machining things like taking a hole to depth or taking a diameter to size on a lathe. But, they’re doing it all. They’re getting a feel to see if they like it or not, so it’s really cool.”
Students who complete the program could receive college credits that go straight to Jackson College.
They would also be introduced to theJAC3 program, which is an early/middle college learning program offered through the Career Center.
“So, they would be taking college classes with their Career Center class and with their high school classes,” Clippard said.
But first, they have to start with the basics.
“I feel like being here and being able to see what we do here. I feel like that’s opening a way for me and it makes me want to go the career center here, and then try and find a career that has something to do with precision machining,” Grass Lake Middle School student Illiana Riggs said.
“I’ve always loved seeing the behind the scenes of anything being made essentially and I thought coming here would actually help learn the behind the scenes of how some things are made and produced,” Lumen Christi Catholic School student Juliana Hurst said.
If you are interested in signing up your child for next year’s camp, click here.
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