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Austin Polytech High School: Helping Students Gain Certifications and Understand Career Options


The Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council established Austin Polytech Academy in 2007. What makes this career-prep school a Great Manufacturing Story? Its committed purpose is to educate the next generation of advanced manufacturing leaders. At a time when some students get diplomas without ever being exposed to modern manufacturing and the careers it offers, Austin Polytech students are introduced to the full array of careers available in industry, from skilled production and engineering to entrepreneurship and even intellectual property law.

The school, located on the west side of Chicago, has partnerships with 60 industry partners. Companies like DeCardy Diecasting, WaterSaver Faucet Co., Freedman Seating, Phoenix Closures, Zenith Manufacturing, Johnson Controls, and many others have teamed up with the school in a variety of ways, ranging from plant tours to internships to guest speakers and in-kind donations. The insight and knowledge students receive from the curriculum, as supported by the corporate involvement, is of great value as they plan and begin their careers in today’s competitive workplace. Austin Polytech also offers adult training that leads to computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining credentials.

One example of a manufacturer that is committed to, and grateful for, the program, is Matrix Tooling, Inc., based in Wood Dale, Illinois. The company, whose customer base includes medical-device manufacturers, sometimes finds it difficult to locate the skilled workers it needs for its operations, and is concerned about where its next generation of employees will come from. To help spark student interest in advanced manufacturing, Matrix has teamed with Austin Polytech to expose students to its advanced microcutter device that is used to remove tissues during surgery. Instructors at Austin Polytech indicate that when students see first-hand that they can prepare to work on products that make a difference in people’s lives, and earn a quality wage in the process, their eyes are opened wide to the promise of careers in advanced manufacturing. More than 150 of its students have already earned National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification, which is impressive for a school that was only launched seven short years ago.