Photo Gallery | Preparing Taconic High School's manufacturing technology lab

PITTSFIELD -- Volunteers got down and dirty Thursday to help ready Taconic High School's machine shop for returning students in two weeks.

About 15-20 volunteers from the local manufacturing and education sectors used plenty of elbow grease to thoroughly clean 18 of the 65 lathes, milling presses and other equipment used in Taconic's manufacturing program.

Sporting safety glasses and rubber gloves, John Cornman used a small brush to clean out the shavings from one of the vertical milling machines.


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"I work with these students, so why wouldn't I want to help," said Cornman, career adviser for BCC's advanced manufacturing program, which is taught at Taconic after hours. "This machine dates back to World War II, but has been modified with hi-tech controls."

BCC and Interprint in Pittsfield provided the cleaning supplies and food for the volunteers, who also hailed from the high school; Bayer MaterialScience, owners of Sheffield Plastics and Boyd Technologies in Lee.

Jennifer Kratovil-Moriarity, Boyd's human resources director, said the cleaning day idea was born out of discussions by the Manufacturing Advisory Committee that she belongs to at Taconic.

"We felt this would get us closer to what the students do as in the end our goal is to get them ready for the workforce or college," she said, her arms covered with greasy black marks after scouring one of the lathes.

Constant maintenance is one way Taconic extends the life of both the old-school machines and 21st century state-of-the art equipment, which would cost tens of thousands of dollars -- per machine -- to replace, according to Larry Michalenko, who heads up Taconic's manufacturing program.

"We're saving about $22,000 per machine to retrofit [this vertical milling machine]," he said. "These are still used in the industry today ... this one just looks old."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233