Celebrating Those on the “Fast Track” to Meaningful Manufacturing Careers

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by | May 16, 2022

Alex Shaw receives his certificate of completion for Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing Phase 1 from Polaris MEP's Lindsey Brickle and Kathie Mahoney“That’s my brother!”

The shout from the back of the CCRI auditorium had the audience laughing as Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing honoree Alex Shaw crossed the stage.

Family pride was the order of the day on May 13th. The ceremony celebrated those who recently completed Phase 1 of their training, a milestone on the journey to meaningful careers in manufacturing.

Honorees brought their mothers, sons, best friends … Alex’s cheering section had 11 loved ones!

“Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” classmates Aimee Baguma and Kiimy Monsaart smile for the cameras. The program is open to all Rhode Islanders — Aimee is a high school student and Kiimee has worked for more than a decade in hospitality.

The feeling of pride extended to the “family” of partners who make Fast Track to CNC possible.

Fast Track was developed by Polaris MEP in 2016, in response to the concerns of manufacturing employers over a skills gap. As Center Director Kathie Mahoney noted, from the start, “Community College of Rhode Island was the obvious training partner.” Participants receive training and career placement support that is fully-funded thanks to Real Jobs RI, a business-led workforce development initiative of the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (RI DLT).

Strengthening the Manufacturing Pipeline and Rhode Island’s Economy

Since launching at CCRI in 2017, the Fast Track to CNC program is often held up as a national best practice for strengthening a state’s economy. It has delivered:

  • 175 trained CNC Machinists
  • 150 previously unemployed or underemployed Rhode Islanders placed in CNC or related roles
  • New manufacturing employees now being paid an average starting wage of $18.36/hour plus benefits

Machine Operators such as those produced by Fast Track have been the most in-demand careers in Rhode Island for the last two years.

The program has two phases, plus wrap-around job placement support.

Phase 1 introduces the fundamentals of manufacturing, blueprint reading and precision measurement. Trainees enjoy job shadowing and gain hands-on experience as they earn 13 CCRI credits.

Phase 2 is focused on learning deeper skills and cutting-edge advanced manufacturing processes to become a CNC machinist. Trainees earn 6 CCRI college credits.

Partnership and Pride

Friday’s celebration recognized those who had completed Phase 1 in the past few years.

Victoria Picton, Apprentice Toolmaker at Antaya, speaks about her experiences in the Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing programVictoria Picton spoke about her experience as part of Cohort 14. Before she found the Fast Track program, she was taking courses at CCRI but “not really sure where I wanted to go with it.” Victoria is now an Apprentice Toolmaker at Antaya Technologies Corporation, a global leader based in Warwick. She says she applies and builds on her Fast Track learning every day.

Lindsey Brickle, Senior Workforce Programs Manager for Polaris MEP, noted “This program is a real testament to the power of partnership.” Cohorts 15 & 16 included current high school students and a trainee from the Women’s Correctional Facility. Leaders from the RI DLT, Department of Education and Department of Corrections joined Friday’s celebration along with program champions from CCRI.

The slide show below offers a few photos from this family-friendly celebration of the next generation of manufacturing.

Want to learn more about the Fast Track or other Polaris MEP workforce development initiatives? Email our Senior Workforce  Programs Manager.

Students from “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” Cohorts 14, 15 & 16 celebrate with CCRI instructors and Polaris MEP program managers.

CCRI President Meghan Hughes kicked off the celebration, stressing the importance of employer-driven programs such as the “Fast Track” in overcoming skills gaps.

Alex Shaw receives his certificate of completion for “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” Phase 1 from Polaris MEP’s Lindsey Brickle and Kathie Mahoney.

(l-r) CCRI President Meghan Hughes, RIMA Executive Director Dave Chenevert, RI Department of Corrections Interdepartmental Project Manager Jayne M. DelSesto, and RI DOC Director Patricia Coyne-Fague.

David Sano receiving his Certificate of Completion for Phase 1 of the “Fast Track” program at the celebration on May 13, 2022.

The “power of partnership” – from left to right, Lindsey Brickle, Polaris MEP; Matt Weldon, Director, Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (RI DLT); Tekla Moquin, Associate Vice President of Workforce Partnerships; Olivia Byron, Acting Director of Employer Workforce Programs, RI DLT; and Shasterine De Los Santos, Grand Advisor, RI DLT.

Victoria Picton, now an Apprentice Toolmaker at Antaya, speaks about her experiences in the “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” workforce development program.

Polaris MEP Center Director Kathie Mahoney: “Increasing manufacturing production in the US is critical. Educational programs like Fast Track provide a continuous pipeline of  workers, for now and the future.”

Aimee Baguma (front row, far right) completed Phase 1 of the “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” program at CCRI while also attending high school.

Edgar Aroche and his son show off Edgar’s Certificate of Completion for Phase 1 of the “Fast Track to CNC Manufacturing” program, along with a Citation from Congressman David Cicilline.

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