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Northeast State Welcomes New Machinist Apprentices From Bell Helicopter

Published Sunday, January 3, 2021
by Tom Wilson/The Kingsport (Tennessee) Times-News
Northeast State Welcomes New Machinist Apprentices From Bell Helicopter

(KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE) - Come fly with us: That’s an invitation from Northeast State Community College and Bell taken up by two new members of the College’s Apprenticeship Program.

Officials with the Bell Piney Flats facility and Northeast State’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) welcomed Justin Brown and David Gardner into the College’s Registered Apprenticeship Program for Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining Operations.

“I’m ‘grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow into my career,’” said Brown, an Elizabethton native and Bell Team Member. “I’m ‘much more of a hands-on person on how to accomplish things.’”

Brown and Gardner represent two of the newest Apprentices accepted into the CNC Machining Section of the Apprenticeship Program.

They currently work in Bell’s Machining Division.

The machine tool path brings them to the RCAM Campus in Kingsport, where they will train with top Industrial Manufacturing Instructors.

Northeast State’s Machine Tool Operations Certificate Program prepares students to become trained Machinists that can read blueprints, operate precision measuring instruments, metal-turning lathes, milling machines and CNC equipment.

The course work and contact hours working at Bell form the knowledge base of their Apprenticeship certification.

“I have a strong background in metalworking in my career,” said Gardner, a Bristol, Virginia, native. “When I started working here at Bell, ‘I asked a lot of questions about what I needed to do to advance in my career.’  ‘This was a great option presented to me.’”

RCAM Executive Director Heath McMillian noted a telling fact often mentioned by workforce leaders in many Advanced Manufacturing Partnership meetings: For every manufacturing job in a region, there are seven other supporting jobs created.

“When you start to ‘break down’ the components of most any manufacturing operation, ‘you will find that most often things begin or hinge on the work that is done by a Machinist,’” McMillian said. “That ‘is why I believe, as we work to grow our region, we must ensure we have a strong pipeline of Machinists.’”

Working with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Apprenticeship, RCAM and Northeast State established the Registered Apprenticeship Program to unite college technical education and regional economic development.

As a DOL-registered Apprenticeship sponsor, RCAM can create training curricula specific to companies of any size and when completing all course and on-ground work hours, Apprentices receive a DOL Certificate of Completion.

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