Seniors finishing the NTMA-U Program include: Andrew Goulden, Tom Teague, Nick Rizeakos, Colby Doran, Sarah Picard, Nick Claesson.
BY PATRICIA ERIKSON
Thornton Academy offers the opportunity for students to explore a precision manufacturing career path through a program called the National Tooling and Machining Association, also known as NTMA-U. Now in its third year, the pilot program has received a generous $5,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco to help fund it. Over the past three years this program, the first of its kind in the country, has enrolled 29 students. Currently, 12 sophomores are in their first year of the program and nine juniors, along with eight seniors (six of whom are shown above), are completing their second year of NTMA-U.
NTMA-U teacher Tom Narciso said, “The program is actively seeking to expand internship opportunities for our students. For example, currently, eight students are working in related jobs at Pratt & Whitney, Yale Cordage, D& G Machine, and Arundel Machine. Many of these students will be hired full-time at the completion of the school year. We are working with the community colleges to expand course offerings and credit for our students. Looking to the future, NTMA-U will continue to grow with the help and support of local companies, colleges, and individuals committed to the expansion of this worthwhile endeavor to address our national crisis. The shortage of highly skilled, technically competent trade professionals is a major obstacle in expanding our manufacturing base.
Bill Kany ‘77, President of the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco (and Thornton Trustee) explained, “Our club has a long history of supporting the trades and vocational education while at the same time funding over $18,000 in post-secondary four year scholarships. The bottom line, however, is that our club works to support all kids no matter what their aspirations may be, and we are committed to providing opportunities for all students. Our club absolutely loves what Thornton Academy is doing and specifically feels that the NTMA-U program demonstrates outstanding support for students who may not want a four year post-secondary education. Several members of our club are manufacturers who repeatedly emphasize the need for more skilled workers, a need that is addressed by the NTMA-U program.
“Speaking personally, my father graduated from the Saco Lowell Apprenticeship program and worked in the machine tool industry for decades. I grew up with a strong appreciation of the importance of manufacturing in Maine. That was one of the primary reasons I was so excited about Thornton starting the NTMA-U curriculum. The Biddeford Saco Rotary Club was happy to contribute $5,000 to TA’s NTMA-U program.”