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Apprentices have unique experience

Posted: October 2, 2013 - 10:49am
German apprentice Raphael Schupp (left) works with Dustin Swygert from South Aiken High School at Aiken County Career & Technology Center. Swygert was one of three seniors who had the opportunity to work with German apprentices during their visit. Six juniors have been chosen to begin the two-year apprenticeship program this school year. Nikasha Dicks/STAFF
German apprentice Raphael Schupp (left) works with Dustin Swygert from South Aiken High School at Aiken County Career & Technology Center. Swygert was one of three seniors who had the opportunity to work with German apprentices during their visit. Six juniors have been chosen to begin the two-year apprenticeship program this school year. Nikasha Dicks/STAFF

Aiken County students in the MTU Aiken Apprenticeship Program had a special experience last month when they worked with German apprentices.

It was a “great cultural exchange,” said Natalie Fox, career placement specialist at the Aiken County Career and Technology Center.

The local apprenticeship program is a partnership between the career center and Tognum America’s MTU Aiken plant.

Students in the two-year program begin in their junior year and upon successful completion of the program, receive certification from Apprenticeship Carolina as a certified industrial mechanic.

Throughout the program, about 30 percent is traditional instruction and the remaining 70 percent is spent in shop working on projects, said Fox.

During their visit, the German apprentices worked closely with the three seniors in the apprenticeship program, with the German apprentices taking on the role as trainers.

It was a win-win situation for both the German and American apprentices, said Frank Rogall, manager of apprenticeship and dual studies with Tognum.

“Our students from Germany have improved their language skills and (had) an intercultural experience,” he said. “For our American apprentices, it’s about seeing how independent they already are.”

It was also an opportunity for the German and American apprentices to refine their problem-solving skills and reinforce the importance of teamwork.

Six juniors from Aiken County public schools were selected to begin the apprenticeship program this year, including Pryce Sullivan, from North Augusta High School.

“I was ecstatic,” he said of being one of those chosen. “It’s an honor, and I’m going to work hard.”

During the summer between their junior and senior year, students work full-time along with MTU employees to practice and learn more about the necessary skills needed for the industry and the plant.

Pryce said that he believes getting experience as a high school student will give him an advantage in the future.

“You’ll have experience, so when you go to college, you’ll be a little ahead,” he said. “You’ve been there working on it and not just paperwork or looking at books. You’ll know how it works and what it’s like.”

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