Monday, November 24, 2008

Maine Teachers Learn about Marine and Composite Careers

Over the past 2 months I have been involved in a "Building Bridges" program with Maine teachers. It has been the best and most exciting program I have worked on in my short time as the North Star Industry Liaison. Three groups of teachers from the Augusta, Bath, and Wiscasset districts each visited four different employers to learn about careers in the boat building, composites, and marine trades. The fifth visit was at Bath Iron Works and all of the teachers participated in that event. The overall goal of the "Building Bridges" program was for the teachers to learn what employers are looking for in industry and to apply this knowledge to their curriculum.

I participated with the Augusta teachers as they visited Hodgdon Interiors in Richmond, Kenway in Augusta, Tex-Tech Industries in Monmouth, Great Pond Marina in Belgrade Lakes, and BIW. At Hodgdon Interiors they learned about the precision cabinet making that goes into multi-million dollar boats. The teachers were able to ask questions of the employees and directly see the attention-to-detail that goes into this work.

Kenway produces large composite parts for hydro and energy plants on one side of their production facility. On the other side, Kenway produces small composite pleasure boats. The teachers were able to see the closed-mold infusion of a boat and the vertical infusion of a 20' tall part for an energy plant.

At Tex-Tech we saw the production of composite fabrics for tennis balls, acoustic insulation on aircraft, to fabrics for military application. Finally, we visited Great Pond Marina, a family-owned small business. Here the teachers learned about the importance of customer service and how a small business owner has given great benefits to his employees. Bob Gardner has created a small staff that is very loyal and motivated because they are treated extremely well.

On Tuesday, November 18th all of the teachers came together for the final session of "Building Bridges". They all shared what they learned from their visits and how they are going to apply the knowledge in the classroom. To a person, all of the teachers felt that this was one of the best experiences of their careers and they were very motivated to do a similar program for their students. Many of the teachers shared that they have already used stories from their visits in the classroom. Building Bridges is an inexpensive and fairly easy program to carry out. I truly believe we should be doing these types of programs with students and teachers in different career fields.


bizdirector said...


Great post. Highlights one of the ways of bridging the "divide" between educators and businesses.

Your post reminds me also of how new media (blogging) helps us keep up on what's going on with our colleagues around the state.

SC Spaeth said...

I shared a link to your post with my colleagues in MSAD 75 (Topsham) and wanted you to know about our interest in your work: Building Bridges