AGAWAM – Agawam High School is starting a new advanced manufacturing program after many years without one.
The school has cleaned up a collection of Bridgeport milling machines dating to its construction in the 1950s, adding new computer-simulated manufacturing technology, and has a trained a math teacher in manufacturing. It’s all part of a $90,000 effort to prep students for in-demand careers and for further study in manufacturing technology after high school.
The 1,150-student high school will offer two classes beginning in September for 15 to 18 students in each class.
“It’s good to see another program starting up because the job situation in advanced manufacturing is worse than it was five, six, seven years ago,” said Ed Leyden, president of Ben Franklin Design and Manufacturing in Agawam. “It’s busier.”
Students will learn how to design a part in a computer simulation and how to get that part made on machines used now by the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative at its new manufacturing shop in West Springfield, said Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision in Westfield.
Agawam students will also learn about additive manufacturing — what laypeople call 3-D printing — blueprint reading and other skills.
It’s just a taste, Carlson said, of how modern manufacturing works and the skills they’ll need to master.
“This is what you need to succeed in our industry,” she said.
And not just as a machinist. She hopes the program gets young people interested in, and prepared for, all the jobs in advanced manufacturing: engineering, sales, accounting, purchasing, quoting prices and bidding on jobs.
And the jobs are out there.