High school manufacturing educators boosted by TMA

DES PLAINES – High school instructors that teach skills used in machining and manufacturing are a unique brand. Even though their specialty is indeed special, the skills they teach are crucial to the USA’s welfare – in so many different ways.
Retaining a healthy manufacturing industry in the United States is a career challenge for these instructors, but a crucial one that they know could ultimately save lives.

The Technology & Manufacturing Association works with a growing number of these local high school specialists.

Because the instructors’ teaching focus is rare, it is especially important that they are provided opportunities to meet up with and share challenges as well as successes with their industry colleagues.

As part of their outreach to these local high school instructors, the Technology & Manufacturing Association hosts four roundtables each year for manufacturing educators.

Leigh McConnell, TMA’s Director of Training & Education, organizes and moderates the quarterly discussions.

“These roundtables allow the instructors to share best practices and network with one another,” McConnell said. “We have different schools host the events, so the teachers can tour different shops.”

In addition to the roundtable discussions, the TMA Education Foundation has granted thousands of dollars over the years to several high school programs to purchase machines and materials for projects the departments are pursuing.

A majority of the high schools’ manufacturing students  represented at the roundtables participate in TMA’s annual Precision Machining Competition. Every year, hundreds of high school students submit projects that are judged and awarded according to accuracy and difficulty.

The next competition will be held May 9th at Schaumburg’s Mazak Headquarters.

As for the instructor roundtable support, McConnell says it’s an honor to be involved with encouraging the educators.

“Many times the machining/manufacturing teachers that TMA supports in these meetings are the only such teachers in their schools, let alone their entire districts,” she said. “It’s very important for them to get together and network with each other.”

“It’s an honor to know them and to play a role in supporting what they do to keep manufacturing alive and thriving in the high schools.”

For more information on TMA-hosted roundtables, contact Leigh at LMcConnell@tmaillinois.org or see www.tmaillinois.org

Instructors participating in TMA’s recent roundtable from left to right:

  • Rob Foster – Niles West High School, Skokie, Illinois
  • Joe Kuechel – Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • Michael Jakubowski – Hampshire High School, Hampshire, Illinois
  • Phillip Moore – Foreman School, Chicago Public Schools
  • Rich Stiles – Mundelein High School, Mundelein, Illinois
  • Ed Foehring –  Technology Center of DuPage, Addison, Illinois
  • Bill Merchantz – Homewood Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor, Illinois
  • Edward Shannon – Aidex Corporation, Rossville, Indiana
  • Anthony Kroll – Mundelein High School, Mundelein, Illinois
  • Leigh McConnell – TMA
  • Joe Pederson – Maine West High School, Des Plaines, Illinois
  • (Missing in photo) Matt Erbach – South Elgin High School, South Elgin, Illinois