BIW recruiters visits Oxford Hills schools; offer welding student a job

About 400 Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students filed through Bath Iron Works’ mobile learning lab last Friday to learn about careers in shipbuilding. Submitted photo

OHCHS’ Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator Vincent Kloskowski and the school’s guidance team arranged for BIW trainers to spend the day showing the technologies and putting tools in the hands of students.

The mobile lab provides the chance for kids to “explore BIW careers. In addition to welding, BIW presents its technology and training in engineering, computer science, and other trades,” Kloskowski said. “This is high end, and a treat to bring here to both high school and tech school students.”

“I was happy to see the Mobile Career Unit make its way to Oxford Hills with the help of Dr. K. and his college and career outreach students,” said OHCHS educator Travis Palmer. “Students were actively engaged and appreciated an opportunity to interact with a career many of them hadn’t considered before. Providing students new opportunities helps them explore their passions and ensures they end up happy and engage in their future careers.”

“Having the BIW Mobile Career Unit here was exciting for the students, OHTS’s welding instructor Fred Steeves added. “They were able to see some of the hands-on careers that Bath Iron Works has to offer. Last Tuesday, the Auto Collision program was able to take a field trip inside the BIW Shipyard. This was an eye opening experience for everyone, including myself.”

“We utilize these [training labs] for new hires that have never welded before,” BIW Talent Acquisitions Specialist Sarah McCraney, explained. “It helps them develop muscle memory, ergonomic stance and that sort of thing. Instead of learning hot work, these virtual units have no waste.”

After each student geared up and did some virtual welding, the unit gave an assessment of their performance and the trainers use it to provide classroom-like instruction and feedback. McCraney said new hires work virtually for one to two days before moving on to actual hot work.

When BIW brought its mobile training lab to Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, the Advertiser Democrat sent staff writer Nicole Carter in to try her hand at virtual welding. Afterwards, trainer Sarah McCraney explained how the set-up assesses each attempt to help trainees get comfortable with the basics before getting out into the shop environment. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“It’s another opportunity to expand the walls of the classrooms to show our students the kaleidoscope of career opportunities,” Kloskowski said. “And some of our tech instructors have come in to share educational projects we do here at the tech school and how they can parlay into (eventual) careers.”

McCraney used her own experience as an example of building a career with General Dynamics/BIW. She started working there an administrative technician three years ago and now is part of the company’s technical recruitment program.

She said that BIW’s goal is to hire 1,200 new employees in 2024. The equipment, which is part of entry-level training, is also a valuable tool for potential staff to see if the work appeals to them before they apply.

Besides handing over the tools for students to test drive, McCraney and her team presented to small groups and one-to-one other career tracks at BIW.

“We brought BIW ‘s unit in for students with career interests in architecture, design, engineering, welding, plumbing, heating,” Kloskowski said. “Whatever would go into a Navy destroyer.”

Bath Iron Works brought its mobile learning lab Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School last week. Submitted photo

At least one OHTS student has the start of his career settled as a result of BIW’s visit to Oxford Hills.

“They even offered me an on the spot interview!” Jayson Nelson, a senior in Steeves’ Auto Collision Repair Technology program told the Advertiser Democrat Monday. “I got a reply today and was offered a position when I graduate!”




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