By Steve Bigham Republican-American
ANSONIA — Emmett O’Brien Technical School celebrated National Manufacturing Month Tues, Oct. 28 by inviting several notable women in manufacturing to meet with the 32 female students who make up the school’s precision machining technology program.
“It was a celebration of females in the manufacturing sector and all the success stories and opportunities that are available to each and every student out there,” said department head Steve Orloski. “Manufacturing is not just a field for males anymore. Women are involved in it and they are doing very, very well.”
Orloski said his classes are currently at an almost 50-50 split between boys and girls with 90% of the female students already placed in career paths. The 32 female students is an all-time high forthe program.
Speakers included Kathy Saint, CEO of Schwerdtle Inc. of Bridgeport, Jill Meyer, CEO of Bead Manufacturing of Milford and Marcy Minnick, CEO of Exello Tool of Milford.
Each spoke on various manufacturing topics with the main theme being that women have just as many opportunities as men in the manufacturing industry and that they can be their own success story with hard work, goal setting and a passion to succeed, even if that means failing a few times along the way.
The event also included three former female students, who have now gone on to have solid careers in manufacturing, including quality control, junior engineering and CNC programming. One of them, Lydianna Vega of New Haven, said she was proud to see so many girls in the program. There were a total of just six when she graduated back in 2008.
Orloski said a huge generation of baby boomer machinists and toolmakers, now in their 60s and 70s, are retiring, and there are very few people between ages 30, 40 and 50 in this line of work. And with manufacturing coming back to America, Orloski said the jobs are there for the taking.
Orloski said all of his juniors and seniors are already lined up with jobs.
“There’s a big gap that we are looking to fill,” Orloski said. “The only thing you have left to do now is just learn.”
School officials say machine shops like the one at O’Brien Tech were shut down for many years as manufacturing slowed or went overseas.
Those days are long gone, replaced with machine shops like the one at O’Brien Tech, which boasts $2.5 million worth of high-tech, computerized machinery for students to train on, and another $800,000 on order.