Dakota Jones ApprenticeshipHow would you describe Press-Seal and what you do there?

Press-Seal does gauges and instruments for the medical industry and rubber molded parts as underground sealing solutions for water and wastewater systems. It also does thermal plastic parts for the rail and marine industries.

I am a first-year tool and die apprentice currently working on CNC (computer numerical control) lathes there.

I’m learning the basics of manual machining and CNC machining as well as getting involved in the advanced manufacturing curriculum at Ivy Tech, taking classes for tool and die and learning good machining practices.

What drew you to the Hire Tech program at Northside High School, what is it, and how has it led to you qualifying for an apprenticeship at Press-Seal?

Northside High School had a metals shop class years before I became a freshman and I asked for a class similar to it. Hire Tech is a program there designed to integrate students into advanced manufacturing and logistics.

Through Hire Tech and the Conexus program I was offered an internship in the tool and die area at Press-Seal and after completing that successfully, I was offered a full-time job and apprenticeship.

Press-Seal received a 2016 Conexus Indiana Touchstone Award for its community outreach and commitment to training and hiring Hire Tech students, as well as what it has done to let people know there are good manufacturing jobs out there and to make manufacturing cool again.

What is ahead for the work you do there?

In addition to completing the academic requirements for my apprenticeship, I have to operate all the equipment in the tool shop at a proficient level for the number of hours set by the U.S. Department of Labor to become a carded journeyman.

A journeyman can work on any piece of equipment in the shop and take a job from start to finish with very little supervision. When journeymen change employment there is very little training required for them because it is known they are masters at their trade.

It is not an easy status to achieve but it is valuable; its completion can take four or five years. There is a set scheduled pay for each year of the program and a final journeyman’s wage at its completion.

What do you like about the work?

I like the bright and entertaining social environment. I enjoy completing the hands-on work and meeting the daily challenges that arise there. I am involved in occasional troubleshooting.

What moments there stand out the most so far?

Being a stepping stone for others going through the Northside High School Hire Tech Program and continuing my learning experience at Press-Seal have stood out the most.

As a success story for the Hire Tech program, I can help others at the school see there are opportunities through it once you graduate. And, if others coming through the program are confused about something with it, I can give them advice because I’ve been there.

What advice have you found the most valuable while developing skills for a career in manufacturing?

The best advice I received was to pay close attention to the journeymen who are teaching me and learn to develop good machining practices.

When you keep equipment in good condition through good machining practices, it obviously helps with making quality parts for the company because you perform better under a variety of circumstances.

And when you have learned good machining practices as part of becoming a journeyman, you can pass them down to apprentices.