EMAG launches apprentice program

March 18, 2014 - 07:00pm
Rebekka Neumann, apprentice mechatronics technician, on the EMAG shop floor

EMAG LLC, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based machine tool supplier, has launched an apprentice training program to encourage continuing growth in Michigan's mechatronics manufacturing industry and ensure an advanced workforce to close the sector's skills gap. Developed in conjunction with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Oakland Community College and Henry Ford Community College, the program offers high-school graduates a career in machine mechatronics, a discipline incorporating electrical, electronic and mechanical studies, providing all graduates an advanced associate's degree.

Over the course of 3 years, the students rotate educational semesters at the colleges with practical learning on the shop floor of EMAG.

"This program will develop a talent pipeline for the manufacturing industry," said Mike Kjorli, EMAG shop floor manager and designated mentor to the company's apprentices. "The participating colleges asked companies for their input to develop a real-world curriculum, making it tailored to the needs of the industry." All tuition and student fees, as well as supplies are provided by EMAG. The combined classroom and work curriculum offers the students with both paid employment during their studies and a guaranteed position with the company upon successful graduation. Rebekka Neumann, hired by EMAG as an apprentice mechatronics technician, said: "This program takes a different approach. You apply everything you learn at your job then graduate with a degree, a job and no student loan debt."

The apprenticeship program's goal is to introduce more people to the mechatronics technician field, provide critical support to engineers and increase the sector's economic strength and ability to attract and retain desirable jobs. "This will prepare them for many work opportunities in the mechatronics field, not only at EMAG, but in the whole industry," Kjorli said. Two applicants, Matthew Combs and Neumann, were hired by EMAG at the start of the program. After completing their first educational semester, both joined the EMAG team in January 2014 to begin the practical rotation of their apprenticeship.

A substantial investment by EMAG helped  launch the apprenticeship program in fall 2013. It has received recognition from U.S. senators, Michigan officials and college representatives.  "This program is very special for me, as I studied the then-new area of mechatronics in school myself," stated EMAG CEO Peter Loetzner. "I have always believed it is necessary that we help educate and train the next generation of engineering, operator and maintenance personnel. Nothing happens in industry if the machines are not working properly. We at EMAG are very proud to participate in this important program, which not only benefits us, but [the state of] Michigan and the Detroit area in particular."


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