By Dennis Hackett
WESTFIELD- Despite the temporary switch to remote learning in Westfield Public Schools, students at the Westfield Technical Academy are still participating in their co-ops throughout the city and beyond, including three students currently working at Advance Manufacturing.
At Advance Manufacturing, two students in the manufacturing technology program, Hunter Loomis and John Sytek, along with one student in the business technology program, Jaideliz Adorno, are currently working as part of the co-op with the Academy.
Loomis, who has been at Advance since May, said he is currently working in the grinding department.
“I work on grinding down different tools to work on different parts for the machines,” he said.
Sytek said that as part of his co-op, he works in the investigation department at Advance.
“I inspect all sorts of parts coming through, including for submarine and aircraft — pretty much everything coming through. We use different instruments and gauges to be able to tell different sorts of tolerances and specifications,” he said.
While Sytek and Loomis work hands-on in investigations and grinding, Adorno said she works in the office.
“I do the office work, like scanning and going through the ‘op sheets.’ I do a lot, so it’s hard to keep track of everything,” she said.
While Sytek said he has had an easy time adjusting to school and work, Adorno and Loomis said it was difficult to adapt.
“In terms of adjusting to both, it’s been quite easy for me. The biggest thing is time management, but school is no problem,” Sytek said.
“You have to have good time management,” Adorno said.
“It’s pretty difficult handling both, but I can still get the job done,” Loomis said.
Each of the students said they were all hoping to gain more experience and learn all about their career fields through the co-ops, and said they were happy to continue working during remote learning.
Loomis summed up the entire group’s thoughts on selecting Advance and touted the business.
“It’s a great company, it’s got awesome benefits, and the people here are awesome,” he said.
Jeffrey Amanti, owner of Advance Manufacturing and general advisory chair for the academy, said the students have done an excellent job working with the company.
“The kids coming out of this program are not only learning manufacturing, they’re learning life skills. They’re well-mannered, they come to work on time, they don’t goof off, they’re very disciplined, well-rounded kids coming in here and working with us,” he said.
With schools switching to remote learning at least through Jan. 18, Amanti said he was happy students could still come and work.
“The more time they have working with us or working in the shop at school, the more skills they develop. We are very fortunate they are welcome to come here. We’ve been very safe and lucky through this whole pandemic. We’re lucky to have these kids working with us during this time,” he said.
Amanti added that Advance’s partnership with the academy is invaluable.
“There is a lack of skilled labor in this industry and Westfield Technical Academy is one of the premiere training centers for manufacturing,” he said. “We rely on the school to train the employees — we have probably about 40 to 50 percent of our employees came out of the Westfield Technical Academy – and this program, this program is invaluable to us.”