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Graduates of RPS 205 Manufacturing Program Land Jobs


​​Twenty-four recent graduates of the Rockford Public Schools have completed the Summer Manufacturing Program. Already, 22 of the 24 students have full-time jobs with local manufacturing companies. They also earned nationally recognized metalworking certification.

The district offered the 10-week program in partnership with Woodward Inc. and Rock Valley College. The program prepared the students for jobs as computer numerical control, or CNC, operators. The classes they took at RVC’s Woodward Tech Center also prepared them for two tests for a National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification. In addition, students are eligible to enter a two-year, associate degree track at RVC in Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, or a certificate degree track to earn additional NIMS certifications.

The program is a perfect example of the student preparation, training and business collaboration that exists in our high school academies, said David Carson, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness for RPS 205. Graduates of the manufacturing program are employed at six local companies – Gleason, Gunite, Header Die & Tool, Advance Machine & Engineering, Forest City Gear and Woodward.

Ron Phillips, general manager of Header Die & Tool, hired two graduates of the program. “With the baby boomers retiring at a rapid pace, the need for new talent is mission critical to us,” Phillips said. “The skill level of the people we have hired from the program far exceeds anything we have see​n in recent years. The candidates understand responsibility, motivation, pride and determination.”

The 2014 summer program had more than twice as many slots for students as last year, when 10 graduates finished the program and received jobs in manufacturing. Students qualify for the program through the WorkKeys test, a component of the ACT they take as juniors. Selection is done after a series of interviews in the spring with RVC staff, company officials and RPS 205 personnel.

The program, in its third year, is funded through an RVC grant and with support from the Century Club. The club is a small group of socially conscious investors focused on improving Rockford.

To schedule an interview with Ron Phillips, contact him at or 815-397-0123. For interviews with former students, contact Cathy Bayer, or 815-489-7211.​