HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State Fast Track for Industry graduates Nathan Hannah and Steven Ogle were each honored at a ceremony at REHAU this week, recognizing the pair for becoming the first completers of the REHAU Polymer Specialist apprenticeship program.
Hannah and Ogle finished the program last month and are now both employed full-time at the automotive industry manufacturing plant. They are the youngest operators at the plant.
“These two students are very special. These particular apprentices or operators have special skill sets where they are trained to be mechanics for plastic (Polymers Specialist). They have been dedicated to our program and have driven through every obstacle or challenge in their way. They are special young men,” said Albert Twitty, REHAU’s Training Supervisor.
Hannah and Ogle, both 19, began the apprenticeship in the REHAU Academy in 2015 through Wallace State’s Fast Track for Industry program, which is a partnership between the college and the Cullman County School System for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing degrees in certain career fields and obtaining express entry into high-demand, skilled positions in the workforce. Through the Academy, students split time between working at REHAU and attending classes on campus at Wallace State.
The Polymer Specialist apprenticeship program is one of the newest partnerships between Wallace State and REHAU, and the polymer specialist curriculum was tailored exclusively for production at REHAU.
“This is a great agreement among us, the K-12 system and REHAU and something we’ve worked on for years. We continue to see the fruits of our labor, and acknowledgments like this are exciting for the program graduates,” said Jimmy Hodges, Wallace State’s Dean of Applied Technologies. “It’s important our students have completed the program. It’s a major accomplishment to finish it, and I hope these two young men will be great recruiters for the program as a whole.”
While in high school at Hanceville, Ogle became aware of the Fast Track for Industry option entering his senior year and quickly became interested in the polymer specialist option.
“I’m part of the first Fast Track for Industry group, and it’s very special to finish the program and already have a job with REHAU. It’s a wonderful opportunity and an honor to have the president of the college come to celebrate with us,” said Ogle, a 2016 Hanceville High graduate. “I was looking for a change in high school, and it turned into me already having a full-time job at 19 years old. I couldn’t be happier.”
Hannah is as equally grateful for where the Fast Track for Industry program led him.
“It’s a proud moment knowing I’m one of the first polymer specialists through the program, and I’m now an operator. It wasn’t easy at times. It took dedication and it was worth it,” said Hannah, a Cold Springs graduate. “I’m thankful I was introduced to the Fast Track for Industry program. It got me to this point.”
Brad Baggett, Human Resources Manager at REHAU, believes Ogle and Hannah can serve as leaders for students interested in the polymer specialist field.
“These two are reaping the benefits of the program going forward on the floor. We are grateful to have partnerships with Wallace State in multiple areas and with the county school system, and it’s great to see so many programs come to fruition,” Baggett said. “We know the Wallace State students who come to REHAU have great educational backing, and we try our best to provide the same instruction. We enjoy the opportunity to work closely together. It’s a very good partnership for both sides.”
REHAU is among the Cullman area’s largest employers. Polymer specialists are among the most in-demand positions at REHAU-Cullman. Those working in this area are likely to find themselves creating bumpers for Mercedes, one of REHAU-Cullman’s biggest clients. Two thousand bumpers, designed and manufactured to precision, are produced in the Cullman facility for Mercedes each day.
For more information about Wallace State’s Fast Track for Industry program, visit http://www.wallacestate.edu/programs/fasttrack-academy
For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.
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