Student Welding

LC helps high school students prepare for metal manufacturing field

LEWISTON, Idaho – A total of 40 area high school students completed Lewis-Clark State College’s Northwest Intermountain Metal Manufacturing (NIMM) Career Develop Program of summer courses, college and Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA) officials have announced.

The NIMM program is in its second year and is preparing these students for entry-level manufacturing jobs when they complete high school this spring. These students were 10th graders when they started the pilot program in January 2017.

Of the students who are participating, 23 are enrolled in the Electro-Mechanical training track and 17 are in the Mechanical Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) Technician track.

The two-year training program is intended to meet the workforce needs of regional manufacturers that produce with metal. The training includes online learning, hands-on engineering technology activities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning, and lifelong learning. Students were recruited from 13 school districts in north central Idaho and southeast Washington, and take the classes free of charge.

In July, Electro-Mechanical students spent three weeks on the LCSC campus where they received hands-on training from LCSC instructors. The University of Idaho’s STEM Access Program personnel provided oversight and evening activities for those students who stayed on campus.  During the program, STEM Access provides one-on-one mentorship to participating students.

Also in July, Mechanical CADD students completed an online Applied STEM course through the LCSC E-Learning Center. A University of Idaho graduate student, who works with the NIMM Program, developed the course.

All NIMM students received a $500 stipend for having successfully completed the first two courses of the program. These stipends were provided through the financial support of the Northwest Business Development Association of Spokane.

Students will continue with the program this fall with an online course, Drafting 1B, that was developed by LCSC. The course is provided through the Idaho Digital Learning Academy.

In August, Comstrat Corporation of Lewiston donated 13 computers to the NIMM Program through the 13 high schools. The computers were distributed to a student at the school who will complete the next course on their own time and does not have access to a home computer.

Since the program began, students have participated in manufacturing tours at Clearwater Hydraulics, Vista Outdoor, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Hydraulic Warehouse, and Seekins Precision in Lewiston; Jetco Machine & Fabrication in Lewiston and Asotin; and Gem Chain Bar in Grangeville. CEDA, in cooperation with Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association (NIMA), coordinates the tours. Additional tours are planned throughout the training program.

With the support of the Idaho Department of Labor and CEDA, NIMA is developing a regional Federal Apprenticeship Program. As part of this effort, a student-to-work program will allow NIMM students from 16- to 18-years old to legally train and work in local manufacturing facilities, starting next summer.

Students are earning high school credit for some of their course work. After successful completion of the program, students will receive a Northwest Intermountain Metal Manufacturing industry-recognized credential that certifies their training.

The training provides pathways for these students to continue their education for advanced technical certificates, Associate of Applied Science degrees, and Applied Bachelor’s degrees. It is anticipated that some will pursue degrees in engineering and related fields.

LCSC and its partnerships are evaluating the program as it goes and are working out ways to sustain the more successful aspects of the program for the future.

This pilot initiative is funded by the National Science Foundation. The project is titled: “Technical Career Pathways to Rural Manufacturing Using a Sector Approach to Support the Northwest Intermountain Metal Manufacturers. 

For more information on the program, contact Christine Frei, the executive director at CEDA, at either 208-746-0015 ext. 104 or cfrei@clearwater-eda.org.