Randolph Technical Career Center
Randolph Technical Career Center
Welcome to the Randolph Technical Career Center! We're glad you're here.
Don't forget to visit our News & Updates page for more happenings at RTCC
RTCC Aims Kids at 21st Century Jobs
New Skills Needed To Fill The Jobs Gap
By Dylan Kelley, Courtesy of The Herald, Nov 1, 2018
Students at Randolph Technical Career Center (RTCC) will now have the opportunity to launch themselves on a much-needed career pathway as a variety of employers and organizations work to close a “skills gap” in the labor force. With the hope of creating a new generation of highly-skilled and technically savvy workers, RTCC’s new program—Advanced Manufacturing—introduces students to STEM-related skills such as machining, welding, fabrication, 3D printing, and robotics. The goal, according to instructor Kevin O’Connell, is to build a foundation of experience and understanding for students interested in pursuing careers in the manufacturing industry.
“For our society, I think it’s important to understand that we make things,” said O’Connell on Monday morning. “Things just don’t happen and not everything can just be done like that,” he said with a snap of his fingers.
Manufacturing has evolved so much in recent years that incoming workers must now be equipped with a much wider range of skills than what was needed just a generation ago, said O’Connell as he ticked off what a new manufacturing worker needs to know.
“A mechanic on the floor now— instead of just turning a wrench and changing some parts once in a while—now has to know about hydraulics and pneumatics, he has to know about programmable logic controllers (PLCs), he has to be able to interface with a computer,” he said.
Describing his educational approach as “foundational,” O’Connell likens the new Advanced Manufacturing curriculum to the Athenian Parthenon, which begins with a broad base of understanding that supports individual columns or, in this metaphor, individual specialities available for students to explore.
Among the most critical of those foundational skills is a working understanding of computer assisted design (CAD) programs such as SolidWorks, which is capable of virtually modeling a sketch of nearly any individual part before outputting the design to a milling machine, laser cutter, or even a 3D printer.
“That sketching process works to increase their spatial intelligence,” said O’Connell. “They have to learn how to think three-dimensionally and flip that around in their mind. That’s what they’re doing.”
Bridging the Skills Gap
Armed with this blend of traditional and emerging skill sets, workers entering the field of manufacturing and fabrication—sometimes referred to as the “new collar” economy—are in remarkably high demand.
According to the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), the U.S. in on track to witness more than 2.7 million baby boomer retirements by 2025. This, combined with an expected need of roughly 3.5 million manufacturing positions has put the proverbial screws to employers who, according to the NAM, are expecting to leave as many as 2 million advanced manufacturing positions unfilled due to under-skilled workers.
“One of the biggest contributors [to the skills gap] is that the workforce that has traditionally gone towards these trades is now rapidly approaching or has surpassed retirement age,” said Christopher Gray, an assistant professor of manufacturing and mechanical engineering at Vermont Technical College (VTC), which serves as a community partner with RTCC.
“If you went into any manufacturer today—even some small ones—they would tell you that in their tool rooms and on their manufacturing line—they’re basically begging people to stay when they’re long past retirement age, because they don’t have anybody to fill those positions,” he said.
Noting that there are roughly 1,000 manufacturing and fabrication positions available at about 960 Vermont employers, Gray asserted the national narrative was playing out at a local level as well.
“On a basic, one-to-one scale, every manufacturer in the state has at least one job opening right now and there aren’t programs or people equipped to fill those positions,” he said.
“We can’t just service things and you can’t just buy things,” added Gray. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to develop an advanced manufacturing pipeline [so] that— both in-state and nationally—we continue to make and be at the forefront of making things.”
For Jason Orzell, an engineering manager at LEDdynamics (which currently employs about 18 graduates of VTC in a wide variety of positions), technical expertise and experience are must-have skills for incoming workers.
“We need folks with … the skills and passion for hand assembly using industry specific tools,” wrote Orzell in an email on Wednesday morning, “people who enjoy using, programming, and maintaining automated equipment as well as technical folks interested in designing for manufacturing.”
For Orzell, a VTC alum who now oversees LEDdynamics’ engineering department, the challenge of bridging the skills gap is rooted in maintaining active relationships with the technical education programs.
“By sparking interest at the high school level, folks [can] get an understanding [of] if it’s a career path choice for them,” he said. “They can work on building skills that will give them an advantage when starting a career.”
Those manufacturing careers— welder, machinist, electrician, engineer— often carry robust salaries ranging between $35,000–$40,000 per year depending on location and experience according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With a starting wage of at least $15 per hour, RTCC senior Joseph Pregent is optimistic about his future as a welder.
Already granted a scholarship at the Advanced Welding Institute, Pregent hopes to eventually use his emerging welding expertise to help rebuild California homes destroyed by recent wildfires— that is, once he’s finished figuring out the various nuances of the CAD assignments from instructor O’Connell.
“They’re adapting good to it,” said O’Connell as he surveyed the classroom and workshop. “You see things that make you feel good,” said O’Connel with a smile. “Not only when they’re getting it, but they know they’re getting it.”
Ever Wonder What Digital Film Students Do?
Well...when they're not winning the Gold Medal at Skills USA, they're producing some very cool films...like this one (for which they won a Gold Medal at Skills USA!) Watch the video here.
In the mood to watch videos? Then you have to see this short film showing our Building Trades tudents finishing up their furniture projects. We call this real learning, from real craftspeople, with real results. Watch the video here.
ERM's Gabe Howe Takes 5th in Game of Logging
Students in RTCC’s Environmental Resource Management (ERM) program participated in the Game of Logging tree-felling competition hosted by Northeast Woodland Training at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center in Bennington this May.
Students from tech centers across the state to compete in this event, with only the top ten going on to the final round - tree felling. Students are then judged on their felling plan, safety, accuracy, and timeliness.
ERM student Gabe Howe placed 6th overall, landing into the final bracket. After felling his tree, he finished in 5th place. Congratulations Gabe!
Randolph Tech Students Win Big at State Competition
Courtesy of The Herald, April 12, 2018
By Zoë Newmarco
Randolph Technical Career Center students brought home three gold medals and thousands of dollars in scholarships from the annual Vermont SkillsUSA competition in Burlington this spring.
SkillsUSA is a student organization that “empowers its members to become world-class workers,” according to the group’s mission statement. RTCC has been sending students to the state competition for several years and they have fared very well. This year, RTCC students entered four divisions, and won first place in three. Each division consisted of approximately ten of the top technical students in the state. Students who received first place were invited to compete in the national SkillsUSA competition which will take place at a military base in Louisville, Kentucky in June.
This year, RTCC’s diesel technology instructor Chuck Lyman took three students to compete, and they won all three top spots in the diesel equipment technology division. Senior Colby Washburn participated in the competition for the second time this year and took first place. “I wanted to do better this year,” said Washburn, who placed sixth last year, “but I didn’t [expect to] do this well!”
Seniors Jessica Pollander and Jordan Horne took first place in the digital cinema production division. As a team of two, they competed against several other teams, including their classmates Ben Richards and Jackson Cook. The teams had already prepared a completed screenplay and actors (RTCC students Abigail Dufresne, Mathew Paquette, and Seth Hurley), but filming had to wait until they were on site.
“Jessica and I had a couple of last-minute twists,” Horne explained. “We found out the day before the competition that one of our [classmates] who was supposed to act for us couldn’t make it, so we had to rewrite her part.”
Horne explained that their film followed the story of a serial killer who falls in love. “We wanted something to stray her off the path of being a serial killer,” she said, “but as the story developed, we decided her love interest should be a serial killer, too.”
“We were really lucky,” added Pollander, “because the prompt they assigned us [at the competition] was the genre ‘thriller,’ so it worked perfectly with what we had planned.” As Pollander and Horne prepare for the national competition, digital film instructor Carlos Diaz said he’ll be helping them to focus on storytelling.
Senior Kolby Carpenter, from Tim Murphy’s building trades class, placed first in the cabinet-making division.
“We didn’t really do much preparation in class,” said Carpenter, “so I didn’t expect to do so well.”
“Cabinetmaking is a particularly stressful part of the competition,” said Murphy “Every student sits at the same table so you can see who is doing what. But Kolby just stuck to his plan—and it really paid off.”
Also from Murphy’s class, juniors Jeremy Hable and Jeremiah Jacobs, and senior Tyler Richards competed in the carpentry division. “It was really intense,” said Richards, “we were each in a pretty small classroom with three other people, and we had to build what was basically a really nice doghouse in about three hours.”
Murphy commended his students’ performance, but wasn’t surprised.
“I’m really impressed with all of the students,” he said. “I [take students] to the competition [so they can]
get out of their comfort zone and see that they have a place with the best in the state.”
Meet our Director, Jason Gingold.
Sure, he's proud of our new sign, but he's even more proud of our programs...read all about them - and us - by visiting some of our pages!
We're glad you're taking a few minutes to check out web site. We hope you'll like what you see, and that you'll schedule a time to come visit, or maybe even shadow us for a day.
Our students love what they do -- and are doing what they love -- all while preparing for careers in their chosen field; for college; or for service in the US military.
If you're ready to wake up in the morning and love coming to school, you owe it to yourself to learn more about RTCC. We look forward to seeing you soon.