Speakers: Technology education will serve TTA students wellWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
Representatives from Chrysler Jeep and the U.S. Navy submarine USS Toledo recently visited Toledo Technology Academy (TTA) to talk to students about the value of technical skills in the workforce.
Speakers on May 2 included Sam Geiger, commanding officer of the USS Toledo; Hank Boyd, educational and training facilitator for Chrysler Jeep; and Bob Geiner, weld engineer at the Chrysler Jeep Toledo Assembly Complex.
Geiger, a 22-year veteran of the Navy, has been commander of the USS Toledo for two years. The sub, based in Groton, Conn., was undergoing routine maintenance, giving Geiger and six crew members time to visit Toledo. The crew also visited The Maritime Academy of Toledo and appeared at a Toledo Mud Hens game.
Geiger told students he was impressed with the technology-based education they were getting at TTA, which will help them succeed in engineering, design, manufacturing or operation careers in the military or as civilians.
“For us, technology is absolutely key,” Geiger said.
Since no one can predict exactly what the “next big thing” will be, the best way to prepare is to make for the future is to make yourself adaptable to whatever new technology comes along, Geiger told the students.
“The best skill is not a specific one, but the ability to educate yourself so you are adaptable,” Geiger said. “I can’t tell you what the next latest and greatest is going to be 10 years from now, other than to say build a good foundation on your education that will keep yourself adaptable to whatever comes your way.”
Geiger fielded many questions about daily life on the ship, such as what sailors do in their free time (movies or Xbox), how they shower (salt water is converted to fresh water on board), how they do laundry (only one washer and dryer for 140 crew members), what they do with trash (save plastic to recycle; compact the rest and dump it), how often they have to surface (only every few months for food; air, water and electricity are made on board) and if there are female sailors stationed on subs (only on the largest class of subs, which have space for separate facilities).
He also told the students he couldn’t talk specifics of the missions USS Toledo undertakes, but that he loved his job.
“Ninety-five percent of what we do is classified and I can’t talk about it, but it’s great,” Geiger said. “It’s adventurous, it’s risky, it’s the kind of stuff you read in spy novels and movies that you watch. It’s a thrilling job.”
The two Chrysler Jeep employees also emphasized that people with technical backgrounds will be in demand and ahead of the curve when entering the workforce.
“The way the world is now in the manufacturing world, we cannot do business the way we have in the past,” Boyd said.
Boyd, who graduated from DeVilbiss High School, the building that now houses TTA, said he came to Chrysler out of high school and later went on to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Boyd’s main job is “to help change the mindset of employees,” encouraging them to update their skills through further training or schooling.
“It joys my heart to be here because usually I have to pump somebody up or convince somebody to go that route and get the training they need to be able to do what we need,” Boyd said. “I don’t have to pump you up. I think a lot of your lights have already come on. I think you’re going to walk into a lot of rooms, a lot of companies and brighten that place up.
“With the experience you are obtaining here, you will be such a value-added asset to our company and if you ever decide to go that route you will be at an upper level to some that come through the door,” Boyd said.
Boyd also told the students to not get discouraged if anyone tells them attending TTA, which doesn’t offer common high school activities like sports teams, isn’t worth it.
“When when you feel like you might not be doing exactly what your friends are doing, like they are having more fun — no. Anything worth having you have to work for, there’s no doubt. And you will be able to open any door that you would like,” Boyd said.
Geiner, a Toledo native, has worked for Chrysler for 30 years, starting as a welder. He echoed Boyd on the importance of education.
“The first wire welding robot at the plant took my job,” Geiner said. “The more knowledge you acquire the more doors are going to be available to you.”
After showing two videos of new laser technology and robot arms working on vehicles within the plant, Geiner said technology is moving fast.
“What you’ve just seen on these videos, when you get into the workforce, you’re going to say, ‘I remember that old technology when I was in high school.’ It’s moving so fast,” Geiner said. “It’s unbelievable. The technology in this field is just a rocket ride. It’s going through the ceiling.”
Gary Thompson, principal of TTA, which has 184 students in grades nine through 12, said the presentation went well.
“It was absolutely excellent and the students were very keyed in on what was being said,” Thompson said.
Jonathon Moscarello, a 15-year-old freshman, said the presentation helped him realize how many possibilities there are after graduation.
“I found what they were telling us very informative,” Moscarello said. “I saw I have a lot of options.”
Rachel Ahrendt, a 16-year-old TTA junior, said it was encouraging — especially as a female student — to have the school’s focus on technology reinforced by people working in that field.
“This isn’t a big school and, especially for girls, our class only has 10 girls in it,” Ahrendt said. “It’s nice to have people telling us, ‘You’re going to use this in the future. You’re going to need it.’”
Brittany Pyles, a 17-year-old junior, said it was interesting to hear how a lot of technology needed in the workforce, such as computer-aided design, or CAD, overlaps what students are already learning at TTA.
“It was interesting because it’s things our school is based on,” Pyles said. “They have the lasers and they said they use CAD and we use that. ”It was nice to know because we do it here so we kind of know what they are talking about.”
Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Superintendent Jerome Pecko and TPS Board President Brenda Hill also attended the presentation.
“It’s just great,” Hill said afterward. “I’m so proud of them because they are going to have such a head start in whatever they do. That they will be welcomed when they go into interviews because they are already prepared — I think that’s the best thing they could have said to the kids.
“Like the guy from Chrysler was saying, they are already a step up because they already have the background. They probably won’t have to take technical training 101 because they already have those skills, and even if they do, they can go through much faster and end up leaders in the class. It’s very nice and I’m very glad companies are recognizing it.”
Pecko told the presenters he learned as much from the visit as the students.
“The message you had for our students out here — and you saw how attentive they were — was extremely valuable not only for them but for people like me,” Pecko said. “We have to touch base with the other 22,000 students we have in this district and what you had to say today is stuff we’re going to continue to share.”