Business and Economics

Purdue Calumet Is Training Job-Ready Technicians

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February 20, 2015 — After spending three years in the army, 19 years helping manage a small construction company in Florida, then relocating to Michigan where for two years she had difficulty finding work, Geri Hult came to realize that her next career required retraining.

Her army stint helped her earn an ROTC scholarship that funded a college education in the 1980s—but that was then. When a representative from the Indiana Work One Job Placement Center told the Lowell resident, “You need to change your skill set,” Hult was all in.

Handed a brochure about a new U.S. Department of Labor-funded, advanced manufacturing training program called Project A.W.A.K.E.—hosted by Purdue University Calumet and its College of Technology—Hult applied and was accepted.

Free training for 300 individuals

Since last October, she has come to campus weekday mornings learning about and training in mechanical components, industrial electricity and programmable logic controllers with 14 other participants who comprise her cohort class.

The $2.7 million federal grant Purdue Calumet received to fund the program supports free training for 300 Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)-eligible workers affected by foreign trade job loss, military veterans and others under or unemployed. Training sessions of 21 weeks begin each month through 2015.

“Participants who commit to this program will be well prepared for outstanding manufacturing-related jobs as mechatronics technicians and industrial machinery mechanics,” Program Manager Dan Buehrle said. “Because so many workers with these skills are nearing retirement, manufacturing companies have expressed a need for more trained individuals.”

 Certifications also available

To advance job marketability, Buehrle added that participants also have opportunities through the program to obtain U.S. Department of Labor-endorsed, industry-recognized certifications at four competency levels: Industrial Electricity Certification I, Industrial Electricity Certification II, Programmable Logic Controllers Certification I and Mechanical Components Certification I.

Hult, who is on schedule to complete her A.W.A.K.E.—Assisting Workforce by Advancing Knowledge for Employment—training March 19, has earned a Mechanical Components I certification.

Since the program began last spring, 21 individuals have completed the training, 11 of whom are employed. The other 10 are contemplating job offers, interviewing for jobs or participating in internships with employers, according to Purdue Calumet College of Technology Placement and Internship Coordinator Deborah Blades.

‘Vast opportunities’ for women

Hult, the daughter of a millwright, said she spends the brunt of her weekends studying, but she doesn’t mind.

“It’s a challenging program,” she said, “but I think women have vast opportunities in these manufacturing fields. Plus, if you’re into having a better understanding of the normal, day-to-day functions we take for granted, like how a car starts or how a light bulb and electricity work, this is a great program.”

While preparing to depart campus following a recent day in the training lab, the emerging manufacturing technician offered, “One of my instructors said you’ll never look at the world the same way after going through this training, and he is so right!”

More information about Project A.W.A.K.E. training opportunities, including accessing an application, is available at

Source: Purdue Calumet


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