It took motivation and heart, but for the 20 graduates of Manufacturing Boot Camp, the certificate in hand proves the big reward from big-time efforts.
"I feel real blessed. I feel real fortunate to have a good opportunity to interview with these big companies in the area. I think it will be a good opportunity for everyone," graduate Jeff Dock said.
The Rock Valley College sponsored program went across 13 weeks. Students tackled math and manufacturing training, conducted mock interviews, and showed off their knowledge to potential area employers.
"What sets these kids apart is they've taken the time go out and get the education, to get the basic skill sets, the starting blocks if you will, to get into manufacturing, and being a machinist, that is definitely a foot up on everyone else knocking on the door," Paul Blee said.
The young alumni say while challenges remain, they're excited to show their stuff and spark the region's machining engine.
"I've learned that I have only scratched the surface of manufacturing. I have to a lot to learn, but I'm willing to, and this program showed me that manufacturing is a great program to get into," graduate James Parker said.
It’s a program that now boasts its first graduating class, prepared to pursue area employers, and have the training to back it up.