First class of AMT completers honored at recognition ceremony

Three graduates in the inaugural class of students completing the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program were recognized in a ceremony at Central Louisiana Technical Community College’s Natchitoches campus Monday.

Benjamin Gewin, Taylor Kight and Melonia McDaniel are the first completers of an innovative program in which students attend classes at CLTCC two days per week and work in paid positions three days per week in a sponsoring manufacturing facility. In addition to AMT certification from CLTCC, the students earned an associate degree in engineering technology from Northwestern State University with credits that can be transferred into a four-year bachelor’s degree program. The program was created in response to regional manufacturers request for employees with increasingly advanced technological skills.

Administrators called the three graduates trailblazers and praised their hard work.

“Three years ago, this concept was brought to this region. AMT began because we listened to our manufacturing partners,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio, adding that each student has grown not only in technical knowledge, but also acquired communication skills and self-confidence.

“There is something special about being in the inaugural program,” said Jimmy Sawtelle, CLTCC chancellor. “Ten years from now, these three professionals will be movers and shakers in the manufacturing industry.”

The AMT program is supported by the Natchitoches Community Alliance Foundation and is made possible through agreements with sponsoring manufacturers AFCO Industries, Alliance Compressors, RoyOMartin, Pilgrims, Boise Cascade, Stella-Jones and Weyerhaeuser.

NCA’s Executive Director Tony Davis explained that the sponsoring industries come together to support the AMT program through the Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME). The northwest and central Louisiana group that sponsors students is called GeauxFAME.

Later this week, CLTCC will host an event in which candidates officially sign commitments to be part of Cohort 3 of the AMT program. The signing program will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9.