Students will manufacture aircraft parts in unique partnership with workforce development specialists

20 Apr 2016 4:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

When Hi-Tech Machining & Engineering was asked to manufacture parts for an oil separator assembly for North America’s biggest jet maker, Vice President Jeremy Schalk turned to a surprising partner to help fill the order: Desert View High School.

Schalk knew better than most the capabilities of students and their instructor at Desert View High School, located in the Sunnyside Unified School District. He is a founding member of the Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners (SAMP), a consortium of area manufacturers who in 2012 came to Arizona@Work (formerly the Pima County One-Stop Career Center) for help in filling the critical shortage of skilled young machinists.

Arizona@Work reached out to area high schools and Pima Community College to revamp their machining curriculum and establish a pipeline of students ready to enter the field. Students pair their classroom training with internships at SAMP companies, many of whom go on to hire the students full time.

That’s what Schalk would like to do.

“I see this as training my future workforce,” Schalk said. His team will inspect the completed parts, and then he’ll write a check to Desert View’s Skills USA club. The funds will be processed by the school’s business office, with students voting on how the money will be apportioned.

The teamwork is typical of “Youth Career Connect,” a partnership of Arizona@Work/Pima County, the Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED), the Sunnyside and Tucson Unified School Districts, Pima Community College, and nonprofit partner, Tucson Youth Development that connects youth to STEM-related careers. Arizona@Work/Pima County is the facilitator and administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor-funded project on behalf of Innovation Frontier Arizona, which also includes Santa Cruz, Pinal and Yuma counties.

Each partner in creating a well-trained workforce brings something to the table, said Kathy Prather, Director, Career and Technical Education/JTED at SUSD. “We wouldn’t have known how to build our machining program if it weren’t for SAMP, who told us the right equipment to buy, and for JTED for funding the purchase of those machines,” she said. “This is workforce development being led by Pima County and by SAMP.”

The program at Desert View is the only Arizona high school program on the Manufacturing Institute's "M List," which recognizes best practices in manufacturing education. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) also has accredited Desert View’s program -- a rigorous, three-step process that involves registering the program with NIMS, completing a self-study analysis and passing an on-site audit.

David Morgan chairs the machine tool technology advisory committee at Pima Community College after serving as the director of business development for NIMS, where he worked with community colleges across the country to implement their credentialing. He said the pathway these Pima County partners have created for students should serve as a model for other communities.

“The program between the high schools, JTED, Arizona@Work and industry is providing students with the knowledge, skills, and aspirations to have long-term employment with substantial earnings,” Morgan said. “There are not many communities where you find robust high school programs working in concert with higher education and industry to this degree. That’s the secret sauce here in Pima County.”

Desert View High School and Tucson Magnet High School feed students into the industrial technology program starting in their junior year. YCC also offers pathways to careers in bioscience, health technology and aviation. Desert View’s instructor of precision manufacturing and drafting is Cesar Gutierrez.

The first crop of students came into the program in fall 2014, with support from teachers, counselors and parents. They work toward STEM career pathways and along the way, they receive support, field trips, work experience and mentorships.

Each fall, a new group of juniors will be encouraged by teachers and counselors to join the program. By the end of the four-year project, approximately 900 students will have gone through one of the YCC STEM pathways.


Pima County’s Community Services, Employment and Training Department administers programs to improve the economic and social sustainability of Pima County. The Department operates ARIZONA@WORK – Innovative Workforce Solutions (formerly Pima County One-Stop Career Center system), which works with industry partners, community organizations, government agencies and faith-based groups to deliver services efficiently and effectively.

Additional Contacts:

Sunnyside Unified School District: Kathy Prather, Director, Career and Technical Education,, 520-545-2163 (work), (520) 205-0692 (cell)

Desert View High School: Cesar Gutierrez, Instructor, Precision Manufacturing and Drafting,, 520-545-5225 (work), 520-221-6230 (cell)

Hi-Tech Machining & Engineering: Jeremy Schalk, Vice President,, (520) 889-8325, ext. 12

Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners (SAMP) collaborates with educators and local manufacturers to prepare students for successful career paths — starting with paid internships.

© Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners

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