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Operating Engineers 324, Fenton schools partner to learn about pathway to good skilled careers

Operating Engineers 324, Fenton schools partner to learn about pathway to good skilled careers

HOWELL, MI –Operating Engineers 324 spent a day with Fenton Area Public Schools administrators and shared ways to prepare students for careers in the skilled trades, especially as operating engineers who build and maintain critical infrastructure. OE324 and Fenton administrators met on August 11 at the Operating Engineers 324 Construction Career Center in Howell.

“Operating Engineers 324 is always excited to share the value of a career as a skilled tradesperson, especially operating engineers, and how preparation for these good-paying jobs relate to STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math,” said John Hartwell, OE324 Career and Outreach Representative.

The event continues OE324’s partnership with public schools and OE324’s Construction Career Days that were held in 2019 to introduce students to the skilled trades. During that event, more than 60 students from Fenton schools joined students from over 100 schools across the state to visit OE324’s Construction Career Center.

Fenton schools Superintendent Adam Hartley said: “Critical thinking skills, problem solving, working with one another, these are never easy tasks, and we’ve had a wonderful experience to understand what it takes to work in this line of work.  It was an experience and knowledge we can take back to our teachers and integrate within the classroom so our students are walking out of our high school – whether they’re going to college or into skilled trades careers – with opportunities to experience what these critical thinking skills are.”

John Haberkorn, OE324 Hoisting Apprentice Coordinator, said students get to understand how integrated math can be to everyday operations on a construction site.

“They get to see what the scope of work is when you are an operating engineer,” Haberkorn said. “They get to feel what it’s like to control a machine with a load on it.”

Fenton High School Principal Laura Lemke experienced firsthand what Haberkorn meant. As a crane operator, Lemky lifted a 5,000-plus cement block from one spot to another safely.

Assistant High School Principal Zach Bradley said: “Being here has shown me how much teamwork goes into a project. Whether it be the foreman and the directors on the ground or whether it be the operators who are actually behind the machinery or the people who are doing the rigging and hooking up the different pieces that are being lifted, it really is a team effort.”

OE324 Executive Director Lee Graham said: “Our goal is to put them in a lot of live scenarios, as a lift director, as a rigger, as a signals person, as the operator. They had to use a lot of applied math in different scenarios, whether there was sloping, different trenches or different cuts.  We also had the chance to show some of the autonomous equipment we work with daily, and calculate load charts for an autonomous spyder crane, and a Broderson crane.

It was a pretty awesome day.”