Let's face it – stepping into a classroom again after a few decades away can be a bit … intimidating. Just ask Linda Gonzalez, a cell operator at Pratt & Whitney's Middletown, Connecticut, facility.
"Well I think it's scary if you have been out of school for a long time and they're telling you you're going to be a learning a lot of new things, everything you haven't worked with in years," Gonzalez said. "So you will kind of shy away from it."
How quickly those butterflies fly away after completing a five-week Inspection, Quality and Technical Drawings training program at Connecticut's Goodwin College. The Pratt & Whitney-supported curriculum is another example of the partnership between the company and Goodwin - aimed at increasing valuable skillsets of current employees. The company recently launched a program with York County Community College in Maine for its North Berwick manufacturing employees. Pratt & Whitney also has a manufacturing training program in place with Asnuntuck Community College located in Enfield, Connecticut. These programs are critical as the company begins its production ramp.
"This program was set up specifically for quality and quality management the skills that are needed for quality management including metrology and calibration, geometric tolerance, and some math skills that can help employees do well in manufacturing," said Tom Corbin, program director, Quality Management, Goodwin College.
"I taught mathematics and I said, what's important here for you, I'm not going to use calculators in the course," said Dr. Al Pacino, program director, Manufacturing Manager, Goodwin College. "Everybody got a little nervous about that, I said I want you to learn the principles of math and be able to walk out of here with an understanding. Maybe you can't solve every problem in the future; I want you to understand the concept of math."
Numbers? Indeed, lots of numbers – but the trepidation students feel about reading blueprints or attacking a math problem consistently gets subtracted with the addition of confidence.
"I looked at a blueprint for parts at Pratt & Whitney about a few months ago, and I couldn't believe I didn't know anything on there," Gonzalez said. "I said, 'Wait a minute, I know how to read blueprints, how come I can't read this?' Well now I can honestly say, I might not be an expert, but I know how to look at that blueprint right now. I'm excited about it."
"The most important part is they really like the hands-on experience," Corbin said. "They liked using their hands to actually measure parts, looking at a part like this, right, taking a part like this measuring it, comparing it to a blueprint measuring it with different types of equipment, certainly helped them get a hands on experience."
After five weeks, the classroom doesn't look so intimidating – it's welcoming. And Linda Gonzalez, as well as her colleagues, return to Pratt & Whitney, excited about what they have to offer.
"I think people should take what's inside them and give it a try and I think the way that this is put together it helped a lot," Gonzalez said.