NORFOLK, NE – Six maintenance technicians employed at Tyson Foods’ Madison pork facility spent part of the summer at Northeast Community College to hone in on their skills as part of a technical training program.
“These employees were identified by Tyson as up and coming maintenance personnel,” said Steve Wagner, machining and manufacturing automation instructor at Northeast. “There is such a shortage of technical people. (Industry) can’t get them trained quick enough.”
Wagner said representatives of the Tyson facility in Madison developed the program with Northeast. Two of the students were already enrolled in the college’s electromechanical program, while the other four are planning to enroll in the program this fall.
The course included machining fundamentals, which allowed them to earn college credit for theory and lab.
“These guys were highly engaged,” Wagner said, “and that made them very successful.”
Wagner said the students participated in a curriculum that is required course work for Northeast’s electromechanical program, which “gave them the foundation for any machining process they may encounter,” he said.
Wagner described it as an intensive four-week program. He would normally deliver the curriculum over a 16-week semester, but it was designed to be very compressed over the summer as the students were at Northeast eight-hours a day, Monday-Thursday. They still earned a paycheck while they were at Northeast, but their education was paid for by the company as well.
Wagner said the students did extremely well.
“We tailored it to fit their needs because they work exclusively with stainless steel. We put in more elements of studying metallurgy of stainless steel as well as modifications of the manufacturing processes.”
The curriculum is similar to what Wagner has done previously with his work with Norfolk Iron and Metal. He has had two teams at the college take part in a semester program in machine theory.
“These guys came in ‘very green’ and they left with a pretty high level of confidence and knowledge.”
Rodrigo Zarate, a Tyson Foods-Madison maintenance technician, performs milling operations using a digital readout to machine an aluminum project part in the Northeast Community College Machining and Manufacturing Lab. Zarate was one of six Tyson maintenance technicians to take an intensive-four-week program this summer that was developed by Tyson and Northeast.