Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners Honors 8 Students

22 Dec 2014 11:27 AM | Shelly Glandon (Administrator)

PIMA COUNTY – Pima County One-Stop Career Center and Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners celebrated the completion of a 20-month training program Dec. 17 that taught eight young adults how to be machinists. The students received their initial training through the Career Technical Education machining programs at Desert View High School and Tucson High Magnet School. From there, students worked with local manufacturers at paid internships that were initially funded by Pima County One-Stop. After two months of hands-on experience, local companies hired the students, who also were enrolled in corresponding courses in machine tool technology at Pima Community College.

“This program demonstrates the power of collaboration between government, education and the private sector,” said Jim Mize, manager of business services for Pima County One-Stop. “The ultimate beneficiaries of these types of programs are the students and the workforce of tomorrow.”

Area manufacturers decided two years ago they could compete with one another for the small pool of talented machinists in Southern Arizona or work together to train high school students or new high school graduates how to be machinists. Students finish the program with a Machine Tool Certification from Pima Community College.

SAMP is a consortium that comprises 26 Southern Arizona manufacturing companies and the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Arizona. The group came together in 2012 with a goal to revamp machining training at Pima Community College and establish a pipeline of students ready to enter the field.

Pam Summers, the human resources manager for Abrams Airborne Manufacturing, said local manufacturers were motivated to come together when they realized none of them could recruit skilled machinists locally. “It became apparent all of us were in the same boat,” she recalled. “We put our competitiveness aside for this. But One-Stop was the glue that held us together.”

Roberto Heredia is one of those beneficiaries of the SAMP/One-Stop training. A 2013 graduate of Desert View High School, Heredia said he “always wondered how stuff was made.” He enrolled in Cesar Gutierrez’s machining class at Desert View, and then joined this initial cohort of students in the SAMP program. Today, he’s employed full time with Argus Machine and hopes to return to PCC to finish an associate’s degree.

In late October, SAMP members told Pima County One-Stop’s Business Services team they would need as many as 46 machining jobs filled in two years. Machinists in Southern Arizona can earn starting salaries of more than $24,000 and make as much as $60,000 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Twelve students started in the 2013 cohort, but real challenges hampered some of the students from completing, said Gerri Brunson, One-Stop’s workforce development specialist. One student decided to join the military. Another dropped out because he was the sole supporter for his family and had to find a position where he could immediately work full time.

Michael Grijalva also went through the machining program at Desert View High School. He’s now working full time with Sargent Aerospace and Defense. If he stays with the company for at least a year, they’ll pick up the cost of his associate’s degree at Pima. Grijalva said that would make his family proud. He’s the first in this family to graduate high school and attend college.

The 2014 cohort has 18 students who are on track to finish in December 2015.

Graduates of the program are: Chris Camargo, Christian Cazares, Ruben Escamilla, Jesus Ruben Gil, Michael Grijalva, Roberto Heredia, Angel Rene Nogales, and Ryan Verbout. Participating manufacturers are: Abrams Airborne Manufacturing; AGM Container Controls; Air System Components; Airtronics; Alcoa Fastening Systems; American Turbo Systems; Anewco Products; Arcal; Argus Machine; B/E Aerospace; CAID Industries; Clean Cut Metals; Dynamic Manufacturing and Engineering; FLSmidth Krebs; Hi-Tech Machining and Engineering; HT Metals; Industrial Tool, Die and Engineering; Johns Manville; Materion Ceramics; Meggitt – Securaplane; Parker Hannifin; Raytheon; Sargent Aerospace and Defense; TAG Engineering; VROOM Engineering and Manufacturing; Zygo Corp.; and University of Arizona Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.


The celebration was held at Pima Community College, one of the program partners.

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