MILWAUKEE — Aiden Rodenkirk is a few months into a one year certificate program at MATC's Uniquely Abled Academy. He's preparing for a career as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator.
"I like it, the teachers are great and they really help you," Rodenkirk said of the program. "I was taking a lot of CNC and trade classes in high school and I found out about this program and thought it was a great opportunity I should pursue."
This is the third year of the program which trains students on the autism spectrum for careers in manufacturing.
"It's giving them an opportunity to make a really good living, be independent and grow," said program coordinator Golhmong Vang.
Students are learning basic machine tool equipment set up and operation among other skills. Student projects include making candle holders, spinning tops and jewelry boxes.
"What we're basically teaching them here is how to set up parts, understand the process of creating the parts as well as producing the parts and inspecting them," said Instructional Chair Chris Chomicki.
Chomicki said those skills can lead to jobs at manufacturing plants producing parts for electronics or aerospace and medical components.
Eric Gama, a graduate of the program, landed a job at Allis Manufacturing.
"It's really important because, at least in my experience, there's not a lot of opportunities or direct opportunities for people on the spectrum," Gama said of the program. "It's helped me a lot because it really gave me something to be proud of everyday. I honestly enjoying doing this a lot."
Gama taking more classes at MATC to further his education and training and is also helping out with the Uniquely Abled Academy as a tutor.