PRYOR— Even with the MidAmerica Industrial Park right in their hometown, Jordan Richie and Jeffrey Helmuth didn’t consider a career in manufacturing until about a year ago.
“My dad has worked in manufacturing his whole life. In high school, I started considering it,” Richie said, especially after the school counselor told him about the Certified Production Technician program offered at OSU Institute of Technology’s MidAmerica Industrial Park Advanced Training Center.
Helmuth admits he didn’t know anything about the manufacturing industry before he attended a Manufacturing Day open house at OSUIT-MAIP and learned about the center’s CPT program.
“I just knew we had an industrial park,” he said, but he was interested after he learned about the CPT program. “If we were going to work in manufacturing, we better know about it.”
Both enrolled in OSUIT-MAIP’s first CPT class made available to high school students in January and completed the program in May, the same time the two graduated from Pryor High School with Helmuth named one of his class’ valedictorians. Immediately, they went to work as floaters at RAE Corporation, a manufacturing company that produces heating, cooling and refrigeration systems.
The CPT program covers very basic manufacturing practices and procedures that are applicable to any manufacturing environment, said OSUIT-MAIP Outreach Specialist Cassity Bixby.
“It exposes them to safety guidelines, basic quality control, maintenance awareness and manufacturing production and processes,” Bixby said.
The CPT course is available to not only high school students but also adults and incumbent workers looking for additional skills and training to make themselves more marketable in the workplace or applicant pool.
“If we can give employers the cream of the crop, they’ll see that CPT designation, and it might be what gets their resume to the top of the pile,” she said.
It also tells potential employers that those who complete the program are focused and serious about their career.
“It shows initiative on the students’ part, and that’s what we’re looking for, people who are ready to work,” said Kaitlyn Clarke, human resources specialist at RAE Corp.
This was the first time companies in the park hired employees who completed the CPT program at OSUIT-MAIP, and they haven’t been disappointed.
Mike Bayless, floater lead at RAE, had nothing but praise for Richie and Helmuth.
“They’re a little more professional than someone who just comes in off the street. They have a good work ethic,” Bayless said. “We teach them everything they need to know, and they were willing to learn. It seems the employees who are going to school or just finished school have this great work ethic. They’re easy to train and easy to work with.”
While Helmuth and Richie enjoy working at RAE, they both want to continue their education and advance in the manufacturing industry.
Richie has applied to Tulsa Community College’s computer engineering program, intending to take business courses to then utilize at a manufacturing company.
Helmuth is taking evening and online courses at Rogers State University’s site at MidAmerica Industrial Park while continuing to work at RAE.
“I’m seeing what’s out there,” he said. “There’s a lot of job opportunities in manufacturing out here at MidAmerica, and it’s close to home.”