College program partners with local plants: Could Toyota-Mazda be next?

Students in the program are already interning at the Toyota plant in Huntsville--which led us to ask if the Toyota-Mazda plant would be a possible partner in the future.

Posted: Jan. 25, 2018 6:39 PM
Updated: Jan. 29, 2018 4:08 PM

Calhoun Community College in Decatur hosted an information session about their Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education Program--also know as FAME--at 5:00 p.m. Thursday.

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WAAY 31 got a preview Thursday about what would be discussed in the session, as well as the program’s possible future with the Toyota-Mazda plant.

Officials told WAAY 31 they'd be discussing the program’s partnerships with several local plants, and the benefits those partnerships have for students at Calhoun.

“To get students involved in industry and give them a chance to experience actual work conditions while they’re going to school," said Mark Rose with Calhoun Community College.

Rose told WAAY 31 that's what the Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education program is all about.

And, so far, officials say it’s proven to be very successful.

“Being able to graduate college with two years of experience in the maintenance field puts them ahead of anyone else that has zero experience," said Collis Sims with Calhoun Community College. "They can go just about anywhere and, hopefully, find a job right off. And, so far, we’ve had 100% placement.”

WAAY 31 talked to one student to see what benefits he receives from being in the program.

“Going to school here and then going to work, I learn from both places," student Dante Thomas said. "So one day, I’ll go to work, and then the next day, I’ll go to class, and I already know what’s going on in the class because I learned it at work, and vice versa.”

Thomas says, thanks to the program, he is currently interning at the Toyota plant in Huntsville.

This led us to ask if the program would partner with the Toyota-Mazda plant in the future.

“At this time, we don’t have anything set in stone, as a written agreement or anything, but we’ll be willing to sit down and talk and see what areas they would need skilled, trained workers," Rose said.

And Thomas says whether or not a partnership is formed, he’d like to join the Toyota-Mazda team, and says he feels this program has fully prepared him for it.

“I really want to get a job out there just because it’s new and you could be like one of the first maintenance guys there," Thomas said, "So being out there as a first, and knowing everything, would be pretty awesome.”

Those involved in the program tell WAAY 31 they’re excited the Toyota-Mazda plant is locating nearby, and they say they could see it making a big impact on students in the FAME program.

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