High schoolers jump start future in skilled trades

2019 START Camp
START Camp students work with an instructor on an HVACR project.

On June 10 through 13, 56 high school students from Fremont and surrounding areas got free hands-on training in skilled trades at Terra State Community College.

During this annual four day program, Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Training (START) Camp, students had the opportunity to do a welding project where they welded together a design of their own, a PLC project made out of a Raspberry Pi hobby computer, a HVACR project where they built water cannons and learned to cut and form duct work, a hydraulics project creating a hydraulic robot and more.

Steve Perlaky, Engineering and Support Services Manager at Materion, is proud to offer a program like this in the Fremont community. “The main purpose of something like this is to expose these kids to career opportunities,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand in the trades throughout the United States that people aren’t aware of, there’s a lot of unfilled jobs, there are a lot of retirements coming up and these are good paying, long-term jobs.”

START Camp is growing and Lyn Sullivan, Account Executive - Apprenticeships and Contract Training at Terra State, is excited to help fill the need for more skilled trades employees. “This year we had more students, which means there are more students who can go into skilled trades,” she said. “So many jobs are available now and many students don’t know about HVAC, welding, electrical, machining or anything else we taught them this week.”

Not only does START Camp help educate students to work in skilled trades, but it also gives them something fun and useful to do. “I see a lot of kids who come in and have no direction. So, to see them come in and be excited and actually learn—that’s exciting for me,” said Perlaky.

This year was Brennen Barnett’s third year in START Camp. He loves learning new skills, especially from some of the instructors in the program. “It’s definitely helpful to have someone like Dennis Epke who’s really talented with welding and has a lot of experience to help. You know what you’re doing after you’re done.”

After he graduates high school, Brennen wants to take classes at Terra State and get a welding certification. He hopes to also get a co-op with Materion and, eventually, become a full-time welder.

Sullivan is looking forward to next year’s START Camp. “I would like to invite anyone else who would like to come to think about it next year. Look at the website starting next March,” she said.