Students From Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Lynn Learn About Manufacturing During a Two-Day Career Exploration Program

By Judy Bass

Most of us never stop to realize that items we encounter in our daily lives, from hair brushes to cell phones to airplanes, are made with care and precision by highly-skilled professionals in manufacturing Twenty sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from the Thurgood Marshall Middle School LEAP program in Lynn recently had an exciting opportunity to discover that and more about this thriving industry. Not only did the students have fun during the two-day event, but they also gained valuable awareness of the multitude of career options available to them if they decide to pursue manufacturing as their profession. The Marshall School Career Exploration Day was part of a pilot program that resulted from a successful collaboration between three local organizations: • The Advanced Manufacturing Training Expansion Program The AMTEP initiative ( was developed from a collaboration with the MassHire North Shore Workforce Board (MHNSWB), the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) and the General Electric Foundation (GEF).  AMTEP is training 900 adult learners and high school students over six years (2020-2025).  • MassHire North Shore’s Youth Programs focus on career readiness. Their services, targeted to a population 14 to 24 years old, include job fairs, special programs and job search assistance. • LEAP for Education, according to its web site, “runs free, after-school and summer programs designed to bridge the opportunity gap for students from underserved communities across Essex County, Massachusetts,” including the Marshall Middle School in Lynn. ”These programs offer students the ability to explore and engage in their communities in a way that will lead them to careers that align with their strengths and interests.” With approximately 450 manufacturing companies on the North Shore alone, there are plenty of openings for qualified people, as well as entry-level positions that the industry is willing to train. They can access a productive career that gives them a solid entry-level wage, good benefits and upward mobility, especially if they continue their education and training. NAMC and AMTEP are running anywhere between 12-16 free manufacturing training programs per year in the Northeast. Interested candidates can learn more and apply at “We need to bring the awareness to a new level,” said Tedi Markham, NAMC Training Manager. “There are dozens of career pathways in manufacturing” agreed AMTEP Program Manager Kate O’Malley.  “If you are starting in one technology such as a CNC Machinist, you can expand your interests into more advanced machining, or branch out to the interconnected departments of supply chain or quality or engineering and programming.” Another purpose of the event was to, in O’Malley’s words, “break the paradigm” or stereotype that some people still harbor about manufacturing – namely, that it’s not a forward-looking, 21st-century industry. Today, manufacturing is an exciting, highly-skilled tech industry, particularly on the North Shore where complex products such as medical devices, robots, semi-conductors, electronic instruments, long-range telescopes and aircraft engines are made. Kim McFarlane, Program Specialist for Data & Assessment at Marshall Middle School and Tiffany McFarlane, instructional coach for English Language Learners for Lynn Public Schools, developed and executed the Marshall students’ learning experience. According to Tiffany McFarlane, it started with career exploration that focused on five specific manufacturing pathways. Students used online resources to research required skills, daily tasks, job training and salary potential. Following the research component, students engaged in several enjoyable game-based activities focusing on the information they learned. The following day, the students visited Lynn Vocational Technical Institute (LVTI), where they visited with advanced manufacturing instructors Mike Pickering and Mike Leone at the new state-of-the-art machine shop. LVTI received a $3 million investment from the state and the GE Foundation to accelerate machinist training ( ). Following LVTI, the Marshall LEAP students spent the afternoon touring the GE Aviation plant in Lynn with Talent Acquisition and Development Manager Cecilia Gray and Technical Training Leader Bob Franklin, seeing first-hand how a jet engine is built. The youngsters’ response was definitely enthusiastic. One of them, Carla, said, “GE was an amazing experience for me. It was interesting to learn more about jet engines and how they are built. My favorite part of the trip was visiting the company and learning about different types of engines!” “The two-day manufacturing experience was a great introduction to a career area that middle school students know little about,” explained Hilary Kopp, Senior Director of Middle School Programs at LEAP for Education. “This effort is a new idea to work with a younger population (middle school) to spark some interest in the field,” said Katie Crowder, Manager of Youth Workforce Initiatives, MassHire-North Shore Workforce Board. “We know we won’t see the results of these efforts for several years,” she added, “but our goal is to get the information out there in a fun way so that young people can see some potential career pathways.” Judy Bass is the communications consultant for the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC).

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