Building Partnerships. Creating Futures.

Manufacturing Connect

Manufacturing Connect consists of two program areas: Manufacturing Career & College Connect (M3C) serving high school students at Austin College and Career Academy (formerly Austin Polytechnical Academy) and a growing alumni network including the Young Manufacturers Association serving young adults pursuing training and careers in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing Connect prepares young people for career and college success in manufacturing, engineering, and related fields. Manufacturing Connect is an initiative of the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council (MRC). Manufacturing Renaissance staffs and operates the Manufacturing Connect program.

Update – March 2017

On March 8th, 17 M3C Juniors and Seniors went to 9 manufacturing partner companies and here is a report on their experiences from Industry Coordinator, DeeDee Jones:

Matot – Devin enjoyed his experience and would love to go back for a Spring Break Internship. He learned about all the machines that it takes to fabricate a Dumbwaiter and even got to handle some power tools and weld;

TGIN – Azaria and Jazzmine would like to return for their Spring Break Internship, said they never saw a mixer so big, they loved the samples, learned about customer orders and how important it is to get them right because TGIN can lose money on shipping a late or wrong order, they learned about packaging and shipping;

Hudson Precision – Christian who is very involved with the M3C program and wants to be a engineer, loved the environment, spending time with the Design Engineer and working some problems out and would love to go back and do his Spring Break Internship;

Chicago Metal Supply – Lashiana and James spent time learning about accounting and a few machines necessary to create beautiful custom metal gutters, they said they were anxious to operate the machines but found it fascinating how much skill you really need to create the finished pieces. They said that all the workers were working so slow which gave me an opportunity to talk about craftsmanship. Manufacturing is not always high speed but only time and experience is needed to do some jobs and you can’t master these techniques overnight;

WaterSaver Faucet– All five students were pumped walking into the door as they arrived for their debrief in all smiles. The students explained how they worked in accounting and learned the difference between accounts payable and accounts receivable, payroll and the importance of accurate data entry. They spent time in Engineering and design, production and had the opportunity to operate some pieces of equipment. They all explained what they learned and they all were so excited;

Freedman Seating – Davian never talked so much in the 2 years that I’ve known him then he did when he explained how he would like to start his career at Freedman Seating. He didn’t go into a lot of detail about the Job Shadow experience but was focused on how he can work there once he graduates. I am working with Davian to make sure he is work ready and enter into the pre-employment training for the Transit Assembly department at Freedman Seating.

Dudek & Bock – Ronnie and Tyler were super excited about operating the grinder, spending time in accounting and payroll and hanging out with Jessie, their supervisor. They said that the staff was friendly and so helpful that they really felt comfortable and asked Jeff in HR if they could return for the Spring Break Internship.

A New Model for Education Partnerships

Manufacturing Connect is made possible through partnerships with Chicago Public Schools, local manufacturers, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Teachers’ Union, and leaders in the Austin community. Manufacturing Connect is recognized nationally as promising practice for career pathway education and training linked to in-demand careers in manufacturing and related fields.

Manufacturing Connect has partnered with over 90 local manufacturers to provide work-based learning experiences and paid internships for young people on the West side of Chicago

Manufacturing Connect has partnered with over 90 local companies in addition to local post-secondary institutions like Daley College, Triton College and UIC, to provide students with college and career exposure, field trips to manufacturing companies and trade shows, job shadowing experiences, paid internships, summer jobs, industry-recognized machining credentials, and full-and-part- time employment after graduation.

Leaders from around the country and around the world have traveled to Chicago’s Westside to learn about our prototype’s successes and lessons’ learned developed in a challenging socio-economic environment as a basis to applying this partnership-driven, community development oriented approach in other communities. As Manufacturing Renaissance’s first demonstration project, Manufacturing Connect staff are continuously working to improve the program: incorporating participant experiences; codifying implementation practices; learning more about making the best use of data for program management, all in order to create a program that demonstrates clear outcomes for its participants as well as return on investment for both public and private partners. Learn more about the development of the MC program and the framework for the MC program design moving forward.

Preparing Austin Youth and Young Adults For Successful Futures

Since becoming fully operational in 2010, Manufacturing Connect has made a significant impact on the lives of youth in the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side, and advanced a new model for education linked to pathways toward career success. To date 185 high school participants have completed the program.  MC serves on average 150 participants, 9-12th grades, per year.

As of August 2016:

  • 298 paid internships and summer jobs in manufacturing for youth earning collectively over $291,000
  • 347 nationally-recognized industry credentials have been earned by MC program participants
  • 55 full-time manufacturing jobs, with an average retention of 1 year, earning between $20 – $75k per year plus benefits
  • MC has worked with 91 manufacturing companies to provide learning and work experiences for participants
  • MC is responsible for establishing the first manufacturing technology dual-credit course in Chicago Public Schools in 2015, the first class of 16 students just graduated high school with between 3-6 college credits each in addition to earning 1-2 industry credentials.
  • Building Training Infrastructure: MC raised over $150,000 in private investment to install the WaterSaver Faucet Manufacturing Technology Center, the only accredited, state-of-the-art machining training facility on the west side of Chicago.
  • Expanding Workforce Development: Between 2011-2014, MC provided adult training using the Austin Polytech machining facility. Over 80 percent of adult training graduates secured jobs or earned raises or promotions in current jobs averaging a $15.83/hour wage. MC provided a training for the formerly-incarcerated at Daley College in 2013 with 100 percent of graduates were placed, 87 percent are working in full-time manufacturing jobs for more than 90-days. MR was one of the founding members of Austin Coming Together‘s Austin Workforce Collaborative, and continue to participate in supporting the expansion of Austin’s workforce development infrastructure
  • Entrepreneurship Development: MC has been working towards starting a student-run manufacturing cooperative called Mech Creations. We want young people not only to aspire working in manufacturing but working towards ownership of manufacturing companies. Although currently not an active initiative, entrepreneurship development will be a key element of any future program expansion.
  • Community Partnerships: MR actively partners with a variety of community based organizations around Chicago on helping to build a community-driven support for Chicago becoming an international leader in advanced manufacturing.

To learn more or get involved, contact Erica Swinney Staley, Program Director, eswinney@mfgren.org or (773) 278-5418