New NMC Internship Program Trained On Manufacturing

A Northwestern Michigan College student recently had the chance to talk about manufacturing and its future with Gov. Rick Snyder.

“He was really down to earth and he asked a lot of questions about where I worked and what I did,” said Travis Rogers, who was one of 10 students selected to attend the Governor’s Economic Summit held in Grand Rapids in March. He represented northern Michigan, NMC and the manufacturing community at the event.

Since last September, the Central Lake native has been working at Traverse City Products through a newly launched NMC intern program that places students with manufacturing and other companies in the Grand Traverse area.

Founded in 1982, Traverse City Products specializes in custom roll formed and stamped metal products. Rogers handled a number of different responsibilities during his stint there, including preventative maintenance and designing a database for the company.

In a typical week, Rogers estimated he spent 30 to 35 hours at the job, in addition to another 40 to 50 hours at school. He was one of about a dozen NMC students involved in the intern program, which just began in the fall semester.

“I got some really good hands-on experience,” said Rogers, who graduates this month with an engineering technology degree. “Anything anyone can do to get hands-on experience is great.”

Growing up in Central Lake, Rogers has always had an interest in manufacturing. He spent four summers working at nearby East Jordan Iron Works, where his father has worked for 25 years.

“At NMC we put a large emphasis on connecting students and business,” explained Training Specialist Betsy Williams, who works in NMC’s training services division.

“One of the many ways we do this is by offering this internship programming. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved.”

NMC works one-on-one with students to prepare them and coach them for their internships. Throughout their internships, the college provides a support system for the students.

“The need for this program has been building,” said Ed Bailey, NMC’s technical division director. “The need for technical workers has increased greatly in recent years. Companies are coming to us more and more looking for qualified workers.

And this is an opportunity for students to get experience outside the classroom. We’re trying hard to get our students exposed to state and national (work) opportunities.”

In addition to Traverse City Products, other companies involved in the intern program are Century Inc. and Skilled Manufacturing, Inc.

Rogers was one of more than 700 business and education executives, workforce and economic development leaders, and other stakeholders who gathered in Grand

Rapids for the second annual summit. The two-day event featured a variety of speakers, including Gov. Snyder, Mike Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan

Economic Development Corporation, Doug DeVos, president of Amway, and Jeff DeGraff, “dean of innovation” and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.