Area Companies Support Platt Manufacturing Program
Vanessa Bogus landed a full-time job in June 2012 as a quality control inspector at Straton Industries in Stratford. The West Haven native is 18 years old.
Bogus graduated from the manufacturing technology program at Milford’s Platt Technical High School in June, and had worked as an intern at Straton the previous three months. She is among the 80 percent of Platt manufacturing graduates who land jobs soon after completing the four-year program.
“We work with a lot of different companies, mostly on air flight parts,” said Bogus. “I look forward to going to work every morning.”
David Tuttle, department head for manufacturing at Platt, attributes much of the program’s success to its Trade Technology Advisory Committee (TTAC), a group of leaders from area manufacturing firms who help guide the program.
“The group brings real-world experience,” Tuttle said, noting that TTAC members speak at the school and also host student tours of their facilities. “They understand what knowledge our students need to become valued employees,” he said.
Bogus’ success in landing a position right out of school is particularly tied to the work of the Advisory Committee. That’s because Dave Cremin, president of Straton Industries, is a long-time TTAC member.
About three years ago Cremin started encouraging Platt to place more emphasis on training for quality control, and Platt responded by adding more quality assurance training to the curriculum.
“It’s a real skill set, and we were finding a shortage,” Cremin said. “Quality assurance employees are not making anything but they are monitoring and controlling and giving feedback to people.”
That training caught the interest of Bogus, who said specializing in quality control gives her an opportunity to work with a wide variety of different products. “I want to go through all aspects of machining,” she said.
Bogus said she took several field trips hosted by TTAC members. “We learned all the different types of manufacturing at places like Sikorsky and Orange Research,” she said.
Another recent graduate, Jacob Hudson, 18, of Ansonia, agreed that the involvement of TTAC members makes a huge impact on the Platt students.
“Through TTAC members I was able to see what it was like in the industry, to visit a running shop and see people working and see the kind of environment I would be in,” Hudson said. “I also did some job shadowing.”
Hudson, who won the state Skills USA competition in 2012 and went on to place second in CNC Milling Overall in the national competition in June, also landed a job after graduation in June but recently decided to enroll in the manufacturing program at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.
“I’m really good with my hands, and I like seeing a product go from start to finish,” said Hudson, whose grandfather worked at Sikorsky for four decades. Hudson plans to go back into the field after completing the Housatonic program, but eventually would like to try his hand at teaching manufacturing courses, he said.
Cremin, whose father Edward Cremin started Straton in 1961, joined the Platt manufacturing TTAC in 2002. “I needed employees, and I was looking for a farm team,” he said.
Cremin credits Tuttle with expanding the role of the TTAC and modernizing the manufacturing equipment and curriculum at Platt. “He brought a lot of new energy in and had a lot of new ideas,” Cremin said. “He got the kids energized about what they were doing.”
Cremin has hired several Platt graduates and says he has seen substantial improvement in the program in recent years.
For his part, Tuttle credits greater involvement by TTAC members and the New Haven Manufacturers Association for most of the improvement.
“These folks have been extraordinary throughout the years in their commitment and their efforts,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle reached out to the manufacturing community and enlisted more members in the TTAC, who then advised Tuttle on ways he could better meet their needs. Members then contacted local and state elected officials who began obtaining grants to update equipment and expand training programs.
“Now we are turning out students who are competing nationally at Skills USA,” Tuttle said. “Platt students have been in the top six places two years in a row.”