G-K seniors get the hang of manufacturing in work-study

GENOA – Three Genoa-Kingston High School seniors were recognized for their role in a work-study program with a local manufacturing firm.

For the past semester, Genoa-Kingston students Michael Brzoska, Patrick Felvey and Ray Puckett learned the ropes of the manufacturing industry at Custom Aluminum Products, 312 Eureka Ave.

“We showed them what a mill was. Every single one of the high school students I brought through said ‘What is a mill?’ because where would you be exposed to this,” said Shane Tredup, the vice president of operations at Custom Aluminum.

“They went from not even knowing what a mill was, to being able to set it up, write the program for it, and not only make some sample parts ... but actually some production pieces.” Last week, the employees of Custom Aluminum commended the work of the three students as well as six of their colleagues – Shawn Balch, Justin Arana, Andy Dominguez, Victor Plata, Jose Aburto and Tommy Cruz – for completing the work-study program.

Tredup said Custom Aluminum has its own university-style program to teach employees and customers various aspects of manufacturing.

In the work-study program, the students spent weeks learning engineering drawing, mathematics and metrology, which is the science of measurement, the fundamentals of welding, and about computer numerical control machining.

Brzoska said he wants to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, and he felt the work-study program would be a great outlet for him. Felvey initially wanted to go into architecture, but became interested in engineering after taking some classes.

“Coming here was like the best thing ever,” Felvey said. “It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work, with drawings and everything like that, going from simple to very hard things. It was really interesting, and I loved it.”

Brzoska, Felvey and Puckett were chosen out of 15 applicants, all of whom were great, Tredup said. An even harder task was choosing which of the three students would receive the two, two-year, full-ride scholarships to Kishwaukee College.

Brzoska and Felvey were selected to receive the scholarship so they can pursue something manufacturing-related at the college. Puckett said he plans to spend two years at Northern Illinois University before transferring down to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In addition, Custom Aluminum donated $5,000 to Genoa-Kingston School District 424 strictly to be used for its various technology classes. Two Genoa-Kingston students will be involved in the program next year, which has been expanded to a full year.

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