High School students get crash course in the trades
MOUNT VERNON — High school students from throughout the region were introduced Thursday to Skagit Valley College’s professional technical programs.
About 170 juniors and seniors from Orcas Island to Concrete were bused in to participate in the college’s annual Try-A-Trade Day.
“This day opens the eyes of a lot of students,” said Peter Schlegel, recruitment specialist with the college.
Schlegel said the kinds of technical education programs at the college, such as welding, nursing or human services, offer a fast track into industries that need employees.
“They’re pretty big industries that are needed in the area,” he said.
Of the three sessions she attended, Alayna Smith, a 16-year-old junior at Concrete High School, said she was most excited by the one put on by the manufacturing technology department.
She said she has a passion for drawing and was interested in using the tools of modern manufacturing to potentially turn her art into something tangible.
“I want to be able to do this stuff,” Smith said. “Knowing that you’re able to think something in your mind and make it real.”
Bruce Poole, chair of the manufacturing technology department, headed the demonstration Smith and others attended.
He said the idea that manufacturing jobs are being eliminated by automation isn’t exactly true.
“Today, there’s more jobs in manufacturing than there were 20-30 years ago, when I got started,” he told the students. “They’re just different jobs.”
Poole demonstrated some of the specialized equipment his department uses, such as 3D printers and machines that use a pressurized water jet to cut metal.
Graduates from his department won’t be assembling products themselves but rather will be designing, developing and maintaining the technology that does, he said.