Taconic students explore factory careers at Interprint

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Photo Gallery | Taconic High School students tour Interprint Inc.

PITTSFIELD -- An inquisitive group of Taconic High School students on Friday received a firsthand look at what their professional careers might look like one day.

In conjunction with National Manufacturing Day, 30 Taconic students interested in manufacturing as a career participated in a two-hour field trip at Interprint Inc.'s production facility on Route 41.

Split into two groups, the students were given demonstrations of Interprint's laser engraving and design processes and participated in a color blending exercise. Taconic and Interprint have a business partnership, according to Interprint's Director of Communications Peter Stasiowski.

"I want to be an engineer," said Taconic senior Matt Rabasco, who hopes to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute next year. "Seeing this whole process and how it all works is interesting to me."

The majority of the student visitors are enrolled in Taconic's manufacturing technology program, said Taconic instructor Larry Michalenko.

"What we're trying to do is make a connection between what we have done in a classroom setting and what they do in the real world," Michalenko said.

At Taconic, upperclassmen who are interested in manufacturing as a career can qualify to participate in a co-operative education program where they get to work with real employers, Michalenko said.

While the mass production techniques historically associated with American manufacturing have mostly disappeared in this country, advanced manufacturing is making a comeback in the United States due to consumer demand for more sophisticated goods.

In Pittsfield, city officials are hoping to capitalize on this trend through the construction of the Berkshire Innovation Center, which is expected to provide workforce training in cutting edge manufacturing techniques.

It's easy to see why youngsters are attracted to advanced manufacturing because it contains the digital and computer technologies that their generation has been brought up on.

But Michalenko said their parents tend to view manufacturing differently based on their own experiences in the field.

"The problem at both Taconic and Berkshire Community College is that generally people don't understand what manufacturing today is," Michalenko said.

Modern manufacturing contains a "clean, high tech" environment, he said, a 180-degree difference from the dingy, sweat shop environment of the past.

"The parents of students need to be enlightened," Michalenko said. "I would support a program like this where the parents would come. I think it would be beneficial."

Friday's trip was hosted by BCC's Workforce Development Office -- Taconic's vocational program also services BCC's students. It was funded through a grant by AMP It Up, a program administered by MassDevelopment that allows organizations to utilize grants they receive to promote and market manufacturing as a career option.

All of Friday's student participants were given blue AMP It Up t-shirts to wear.

National Manufacturing Day is organized by several industrial organizations, including the National Association of Manufacturers.

In its three years of existence, more than 1,600 manufacturing plant tours similar to Friday's event have taken place across the country, and have been attended by more than 100,000 participants.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.


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