Western Nevada College launches manufacturing training lab at Silver Stage High School

Travis McDonald works in the Manufacturing Technician Training lab at Silver Stage High School in Silver Springs.

Travis McDonald works in the Manufacturing Technician Training lab at Silver Stage High School in Silver Springs.

Western Nevada College’s new manufacturing training hub in Silver Springs is delivering just what the local economy needs: technical education for rural high school students who are receiving the necessary training to enter a job-ready workforce.

This fall, WNC launched a Manufacturing Technician Training Program at Silver Stage High School through its Jump Start program.

Equipment for this Career and Technical Education manufacturing technology training program is funded by a Nevada Department of Education Perkins College and Career Readiness grant. The equipment allows hands-on training simulating experiences on a manufacturing floor. Upon successful completion, the 17 participants will earn a WNC Job Skills certificate, an OSHA 10 card and up to 20 college credit hours.

“Bringing the manufacturing training hub to the community school has opened the eyes of students, parents and community members to the advantages of an education in this field,” said Keri Pommerening, director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

“As a school district, we try to capitalize on all of the advantages we can offer our students, while also working with community businesses. This is a prime example of how we can work together with our community businesses.”

Emily Howarth, Electronics and Industrial Technology professor at WNC, teaches the Manufacturing Technician classes at Silver Stage. She said the unique educational training opportunity supports the college’s institutional theme of “One College Serving Many Communities.”

“We have created a technical training lab in a co-located environment to serve not only our current Jump Start College students, but to demonstrate our commitment in support of the entire surrounding community,” Howarth said. “Nevadans from all walks of life who complete these college classes and earn their industry credentials will be prepared to compete for good jobs to ‘Make It in Nevada.’ ”

Howarth provides instruction to Silver Stage students twice a week in manufacturing classes AIT 101 and 155, which are worth seven credits combined. These students also take an industrial math course at the school for an additional three credits.

“Manufacturing Technician training is a program of rigorous study and requires a commitment on the part of the student, to drive themselves forward through a large workload and unfamiliar material,” Howarth said. “There are computer-based lesson materials and interactive simulators to develop understanding and confidence, and hands-on exercises to practice technical skills and apply the concepts.”

The training lab is located near where a manufacturing renaissance is taking place in Northern Nevada. USA Parkway’s expansion will meet U.S. 50 near Silver Stage High School, approximately 13 miles from the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

Pommerening said students can benefit from this program because they will graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to procure higher-paying jobs.

“Students will be able to graduate from Silver Stage High School with the needed education to receive certification in this field, which will help them get a job and earn a family sustainable wage,” Pommerening said. “Many of them will be the first generation in their family to do this.”

Acquiring these manufacturing skills couldn’t come at a better time for these Jump Start students. Panasonic Energy North America (PENA) began producing lithium-ion batteries earlier this year at the Gigafactory located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, where Tesla is assembling them into their various sustainable energy platforms. The close proximity of manufacturing-related jobs will also allow the Silver Stage students to remain in their hometown if they wish.

“Having our students prepared to graduate with a certificate that may enable them to get job opportunities in a Gigafactory within 30-45 miles of their current home is of tremendous importance,” Pommerening said. “While this opportunity will open doors to many other opportunities, our students will not have to leave home and try to support themselves until they feel they are ready.”

Pommerening said the feedback from the community about the manufacturing training lab has been positive and supportive.

“Silver Stage High School just had a parent/community night where they invited people to tour the manufacturing lab and see all the amazing things students are learning and creating,” she said. “Parents were amazed that these opportunities were available to their children. Many of them asked if there was any way they, too, could learn these skills.”

For more information about Manufacturing Technician training, contact Howarth at Emily.howarth@wnc.edu or at 775-445-3000. Students and families who are interested in Jump Start College should talk with their local high school. High school and district administrators seeking more information can contact WNC CTE Director Georgia White at Georgia.white@wnc.edu or at 775-445-3348.

“Parents should contact their high school principal to get started on the process for joining this or any Jump Start program, and students should start a conversation with their guidance counselor as soon as possible,” Howarth said.


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