CT Manufacturer goes Back to School to Fill Jobs

Elvis Zayas and Andrew Zaharek Teaching at Northwest Connecticut Community College

One of the biggest challenges facing US manufacturing companies today is the availability of skilled workers. At Altek Electronics, we struggled to find qualified soldering operators to fill open positions on our printed circuit board assembly lines. In order to meet customer demands and grow our company, we needed to solve this problem quickly. Our local Chamber of Commerce helped.

The Northwest CT Chamber’s Manufacturing Coalition meets on a monthly basis. This is where we met with guidance counselor Andrew Marchand from Torrington High School (THS), and Sharon Gusky and Tara Jo Holmberg from Northwestern CT Community College (NCCC) to talk about how to create pathways in our community from school to work in the field of manufacturing.

Not every high school graduate is on a college track, and service jobs don’t offer the same benefits that are found in the manufacturing sector. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “90 percent of manufacturing employees have access to medical care benefits, compared with 66 percent of workers in private service-providing industries.” For this reason, manufacturing jobs are an attractive option for high school students looking to enter the workforce after graduation.

Altek collaborated with Sharon and Tara from NCCC and Andrew from THS to introduce the soldering class to high school seniors who want to go straight to work. Altek provided the instructors, NCCC provided the classroom space and grant money for materials and equipment, and THS recruited the students. Our first class had six participants. Altek hired four of them at a pay rate of more than $12.00 per hour.

Word quickly spread about the success of the program, and today the second class has a total of 15 students from four different school districts. Students who complete the program will achieve their IPC-610 Certification, the industry standard for soldering.

The third class will begin on March 27th 2017 and run through May 15th 2017. Class is held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 5-8 pm. The Class Registration Number is #1403. Please contact Joanne Nardi, NCCC Director of Admissions, for information about registering students. (860) 738-6300.

Course Syllabus, MFG-148: Soldering and Electronics

Course Description

This course will cover topics in soldering, electronic components, and manufacturing of printed circuit board assemblies. Students will prepare and complete projects that utilize their acquired skills that are in accordance to the industry standards and their own technique.

A goal of this course is to describe materials, methods and acceptance criteria for soldering electronic assemblies. In addition to the information provided, this class is a combination of understanding the industry requirements and demonstrating your ability to hand solder in Through-Hole Technology (THT), Surface-Mount Technology (SMT), and Wire to Terminals. A basic overview of component identification and value interpretation.

Pre-requisite /Co-requisite: None

Outcomes: By the end of the course, student should be able to demonstrate:

1. Ability to navigate through the IPC-A-610 manual.

2. Appropriate use of electronics vocabulary.

3. Acceptable criteria for all three classes.

4. Ability to solder Through Hole, Surface Mount, Wires and Terminals.

5. Ability to recognize standard electronic components including their markings and polarity.

6. Ability to identify and utilize tools used in the electronic assembly industry.

7. Personal safety and component safety (ESD/MSD).

8. Knowledge of PCBA production equipment and production manufacturing concepts.


by Sabrina Beck


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