Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 Program Graduation and Signing Ceremony
The Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 program graduated three students at a ceremony in the Myers Center Auditorium on the College’s Dallas campus on Tuesday, August 22. The students, Michael Philbeck, Davis Barnhill, and Brandon Grainger, participated in the Apprenticeship program for two years, working at area manufacturing companies while attending classes toward their associate degrees.
Michael Philbeck had worked for Firestone Fibers and Textiles for 19 years when he joined the Apprenticeship 321 program in 2015. Philbeck is currently employed as a Mechanic A with Firestone, and is now eligible for a job as an Electromechanical Technician, when such a position becomes available. “The apprenticeship program was a great experience,” he said. “It provided me the education and on-the-job training that helped me tremendously on my job. My company is very pleased with the progress that I made.” Philbeck’s success in the program led the NCWorks Apprenticeship Office to nominate him as Outstanding Registered Apprentice for 2016.
After completing the Apprenticeship 321 program, Philbeck is continuing his education at Gaston College. “I am currently taking the remaining classes for me to obtain my AAS in Mechatronics Engineering Technology. After that I plan to transfer to Western Carolina to obtain my bachelor’s in Engineering and possibly move up even more at Firestone.”
Davis Barnhill apprenticed with LanXess Corporation, where he works full-time as an Operations Technician. “The apprenticeship was an amazing experience for me,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from classes and from my on-the-job training. I plan on continuing my education and eventually getting my master’s degree in Industrial Engineering. My goal with LanXess is to learn as much as possible and move up the chain of command—my main goal is to one day be the plant engineer.”
Barnhill found the Apprenticeship 321 program to be extremely rewarding, although the demands of the program—working full-time while taking classes at Gaston College—were considerable. “I do recommend that if someone is interested in the program,” he said, “they should think hard before they sign and make sure they know what they want to do and have passion for it. It is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Perry Russell of LanXess was the mentor for Davis Barnhill. “The Apprenticeship 321 program is a great way to introduce the young work force to real world manufacturing,” he said. “With the added bonus of getting hands-on experience with the company they are working with, the apprentices also get a schoolroom setting that teaches them the theory behind some manufacturing practices. We are happy to have Davis as part of our LanXess team.”
Also graduating was Brandon Grainger, who served his apprenticeship at Mann+Hummel Filtration Technology. “My experience with the apprenticeship here at Mann+Hummel has been wonderful,” said Grainger. “I have been trained in so many different things such as running a milling machine and lathe, stick welding, and also how to troubleshoot equipment breakdowns here in the plant. I have worked with some of the best people possible and have had some really awesome instructors at Gaston College.”
The apprenticeship also enabled Grainger to make some impressive accomplishments. “I was able to buy my first house in Cherryville, North Carolina, just over three months ago, which I am loving,” he said. “I like older Chevrolet trucks and through the apprenticeship program I was able to set aside money and build a four-wheel drive truck I have always dreamed of having. I was offered a full-time job in the maintenance shop at Mann+Hummel at the end of my apprenticeship and I accepted it. And I am still taking classes at Gaston College in order to finish up my Mechanical Engineering Technology degree.”
Brandon Psomadakis was Grainger’s mentor at Mann+Hummel. “Brandon Grainger is the first apprentice to complete the Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 program for Mann+Hummel,” said Psomadakis. “This has been a very successful program. Through the on-the-job training and the classroom studies Brandon’s skills have exceeded our initial expectations. Brandon is now a full-time maintenance technician with Mann+Hummel. We currently have two apprentices enrolled in this program.”
The ceremony also recognized the signing of new apprentices to positions at LanXess and at Kaco USA. Justin Travis Bowden heard about the Apprenticeship 321 program and was eager to get involved. While enrolled in classes at Gaston College, he learned about LanXess and that the company had an opening for a Maintenance Mechanic. His goal is to apprentice at LanXess, expand his knowledge, and grow into the Maintenance Mechanic position.
Kaco USA has welcomed Westley Wayne Bosley as its new apprentice. Alex Zacharauskas is his mentor at the company. “Westley is a very bright young man who is eager to expand his capabilities through the Apprenticeship 321 program,” said Zacharauskas. “He is an extremely good match for the program and we want to encourage him to continue to build his skills. We are very excited here at Kaco USA to support him and the program. It is important to us to help our community grow and to help provide opportunities such as Apprenticeship 321 to our employees. We look forward to mentoring and watching Westley develop his skills.”
The graduation and signing ceremony took place in the Myers Center Auditorium on the Dallas campus of Gaston College.
Gaston College was the first college within North Carolina to be registered with the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s NCWorks Apprenticeship Office as sponsor of an apprenticeship program.
Participants in the Apprenticeship 321 program receive job-specific training and a cost-free education from Gaston College while earning a salary from local employers. For more information about the Apprenticeship 321 program, visit https://www.gaston.edu/apprenticeship-321/ or contact Carol Faust, Coordinator of Business and Industry Training and Continuing Education Programs, at 704-922-6521 or email@example.com.