Career Tech Center students get hands-on lessons in manufacturing Local businesses open doors for youths

By Judi Currie

SOMERSWORTH — J-Pac Medical and Velcro USA hosted a group of students this week from the Career Technical Center (CTC) at Somersworth High School, connecting what they’re learning in school with what happens in an actual manufacturing environment.

Amanda LeLacheur, a counselor at the CTC, says she offered the tour so students could see what kind of products were being manufactured in their backyard in Somersworth. About 20 students from the Technology/Engineering and Welding programs took part on Monday.

“At J-Pac Medical we were able to fully suit-up and got into jumpsuits, covered our hair, our shoes, wore goggles and go into the clean room. Students were able to weld a piece of mesh together, then they were brought into another room and they were able to test their welding skills and see how many pounds the mesh would hold,” LeLacheur said.

The tour included a short presentation on J-Pac and its product line, as well as a tour of the full production line.

“They gave a pretty good look inside the company. They brought us to areas where they are producing, packing, where the engineers are testing the product, we got to see all that,” LeLacheur said.

“For the students, seeing things that they are doing in the classroom and seeing how it is being used out in the workplace shows there really is a connection to what they are learning in school,” she said.

At Velcro the students were given a full tour of that facility as well.

“We got to see from the knits, their plastic technology, we got to see the machinery, they walked us through all four steps right up to packaging. Students got some background history on Velcro,” LeLacheur said.

“They are really trying to promote opportunities with students and getting some students in their workforce after they come out of high school,” she said.

While, there are no internship opportunities at the moment a plan is in the works.

“Right now we are working with J-Pac to get a student working there. They’re very willing to have students come in; we just have to find out what they are looking for,” LeLacheur said.

“Some of the students on the tour would really like to intern there. Velcro may have a summer program available.”

She says there are a lot of companies that could provide an opportunity for students to see what is being made locally so additional tours are in the works as well as some college tours.

LeLacheur works closely with Somersworth Economic Development Director Christine Soutter, who helped arrange the tours.