What Ridgewood High Students Say About TMA Training

The students say TMA’s classes opened their eyes to appreciate more how things are made, to realize the previously unknown opportunities in manufacturing, and to think differently about the industry as a whole.

“Now I see everything has to come from somewhere,” Bobby Hall said. “The parts that make things work have to fit together perfectly – down to the thousands of an inch.”

Those math intricacies in manufacturing fascinate Jose Bedon. “I like to learn how things work. I’m a math person. I like the numbers. And I like to work with my hands.”

Jose and several others in the class also play on Ridgewood High’s football team. The TMA class is affecting the way they think about next steps.

“I want to go to a college that teaches engineering. If you’re asked to play football at a college that doesn’t teach engineering, you’re basically wasting your time,” Jose said. “If you want to do this work, you should go to a college that will help. After this class, you’ll know more stuff and know what the jobs will require.”

Jacob Lorscheid said the first few weeks of class changed his perception of manufacturing. “People say that manufacturing is really dirty, and that you can get lung disease because of all the chemicals and smoke, but it’s not that way, it’s really clean,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

What do the students like most about the class?

They all agreed running the CNC machines and making parts with specs was the best.

“Everyone back at school is just sitting in a classroom, we’re doing something,” Rocco Di Piero said, smiling. “When other kids ask me where I am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I tell them I’m learning to run machines, and show them what we’ve made.”

Running those machines is the best part for Jacob, too. “When we first got here, we just walked around and looked at the machines, and we thought ‘No way’ would we be able to use them, to do what we know now. We’ve made some parts already,” he said, and pointed to three shiny parts sitting on instructor Paul Newman’s desk.

Ridgewood High administrators are already considering a joint effort with TMA next year. All eight students said they would encourage others to take the class. The class was divided on whether the opportunity should be opened to juniors in high school. Some said the junior year was too demanding to take the class, that students would likely fall behind in other courses. Others thought it would be good to start a year earlier.

“No, I think you should do it in your junior and senior year,” Jose said. “You should learn during your freshman and sophomore years and start your career in your junior and senior years.”

The students agreed their parents are encouraging and supportive. Some parents are relieved that their seniors are focusing on pursuing a career path.

“My parents said it’s a good opportunity, and can help give you an idea about what you want to do with the rest of your life,” John Rossi said, as classmate Kasper Zurek nodded in agreement. They all also thought girls should consider the same career options and the classes.

“I’m checking this out, not sure exactly what I want to do, but this is interesting.” Zach Karkoszka said. “There are more job possibilities than I knew that are hands on.”

“The class is opening up new fields of opportunity, and I’m seeing what’s out there,” senior Michael Gonzalez said. “What I’m seeing is interesting. I really do enjoy it a lot.”

And although he really didn’t know what area of manufacturing he’d end up in, he was open. “Right now, anything – I’ll take it.”

And what would they say to a potential employer? “Hire me!” they shouted, laughing.

First published in TMA’s October 2017 News Bulletin HERE. TMA Bulletin hard copies mailed monthly to TMA Members.