SAINT MARYS, Pa. — A partnership between Penn State DuBois, the Saint Marys Area School District and Workforce Solutions for North Central Pennsylvania is helping build the workforce of tomorrow for the local metal manufacturing industry.
The need for skilled and highly trained manufacturing employees throughout the region has led to many new programs. In addition to the career exploration programs at every elementary school and middle school, the Saint Marys Area School District has brought a unique manufacturing program that has become a big success for the numerous students who participate, as well as the local companies who help support the program. Dutch Manufacturing is a student-run manufacturing venture that joins high-technology education and hands-on manufacturing skills that give students a real-world business and manufacturing experience.
“Dutch Manufacturing provides students with a panoramic view of manufacturing in a module-based format, supplemented by site visits and internship opportunities as well as guest speakers, a pre-apprenticeship and additional industry connections,” Harley Ramsey, Saint Marys Area School District superintendent said. “The program is a six-course sequence that provides an overview of powdered metal and carbon, which are central to local industry, fundamentals of advanced manufacturing, introduction to manufacturing systems, mechatronic systems, digital manufacturing systems and advanced materials and design. These are just some of the skills that students learn during their time in Dutch Manufacturing.”
With the immediate success of Dutch Manufacturing, Ramsey and instructors Jesse Schrieber and Ray Holtzhauser, reached out to Penn State DuBois to discuss how a high school die setter training program could work within the school system if students were also interested in gaining that skill set. After finalizing the details, the first training session for students began in November and is currently ongoing. This session includes four students and plans for spring sessions are being discussed as well.
With the success that has been seen with Dutch Manufacturing since its creation, bringing the elements of our established die-setter training program to the high school level seemed like a natural fit for these interested students.
—John Brennan , director of continuing and community education at Penn State DuBois
“Penn State DuBois has been offering a 74-hour Die-Setter Training program for job seekers and incumbent workers since 2017, with nearly 100 trainees completing the program,” said John Brennan, director of continuing and community education at Penn State DuBois. “The training, made up of a combination of classroom and hands-on courses, provides entry-level instruction to both those seeking employment and incumbent workers. With the success that has been seen with Dutch Manufacturing since its creation, bringing the elements of our established die-setter training program to the high school level seemed like a natural fit for these interested students.”
During the high school program, students gain classroom experience by using a state-of-the-art online learning system, purchased by the school district. Penn State Die Setter Instructor George Schneider then provides 20 hours of hands on, straight-wall set up instruction in the school’s metal machining classroom on a Gasbarre powder metal press. The small group of students work with Schneider during the normal Dutch Manufacturing class times and are able to repeat specific set-up processes to become productive workers in the field.
It has amazed me how quickly these young students have been able to learn the processes involved with setting up a press and understand the science, settings and changes required to make exceptional powdered metal parts. It’s been a pleasure working with students who are eager to learn and soak up everything we show them.
—George Schneider , Penn State DuBois die-setter instructor
“It has amazed me how quickly these young students have been able to learn the processes involved with setting up a press and understand the science, settings and changes required to make exceptional powdered metal parts,” Schneider said. “It’s been a pleasure working with students who are eager to learn and soak up everything we show them.”
Following the training, the students will be able to utilize the school’s press, with continued assistance from Schneider, Schreiber and Holtzhauser, to assist local companies with production and produce commercial pieces that represent the Dutch Manufacturing Program.
“So, whether students only use these skills for their high school career, carry this knowledge to a career following high school or extend their education at a trade school or university, this experience shows them that they have many local options to remain in our community and contribute to the success of our region,” Ramsey said.
“In addition to our degree programs that help supply our local industries with highly qualified staff members,” said Jungwoo Ryoo, chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State DuBois, “our continuing and community education programs are committed to developing non-credit trainings that help companies increase the skills of their employees to help with their workforce development goals. We are fortunate to have such great partners and instructors who add to the creativity of our campus and help to develop programming in our community. It’s programs like this high school die-setter training that help us fulfill our land grant mission of teaching, research and service.”
Penn State DuBois, in partnership with several of the region’s leading powder metal companies and Workforce Solutions of North Central Pennsylvania, developed the training and worked with some of the industry’s leading experts, who became instructors for the program. With limited class sizes and real-world training experience, students have more interaction with the instructors and can learn the skills on industry standard powdered metal presses at both Saint Marys Area High School and the Engineering Lab at Penn State DuBois.
During the traditional die setter training program offered by continuing and community education at Penn State DuBois, trainees get hands-on experience doing press set ups for straight-wall, flange, spherical, dual top and dual bottom processes. Additional classroom experience is gained in industrial math, blueprint reading, metrology, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, statistical process control and fracture and failure analysis. For adults interested in the die-setter training program, another class will be offered in the spring, beginning in March. Visit the course website online to learn more.
Continuing and Community Education at Penn State DuBois is a bridge between Penn State resources and its partners, including business and industry, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and state and federal agencies. Programs cover manufacturing and quality, engineering, human and health services, food service, computer and electronics, construction, professional and business services and more.
To learn more about courses offered by continuing and community education at Penn State DuBois, visit the website.