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Meet Elaine – Apprentice at Sono-Tek Corporation

Post: Jun. 5, 2019


Elaine has been working as an Electrical Assembler at Sono-Tek Corporation in Milton, NY for the past 7 months. Sono-Tek is a world leader in ultrasonic coating solutions. Their innovative, patented coating systems provide full solutions to complex coating challenges across many industries. Elaine’s responsibilities vary from day-to-day, but she spends much of her time building cables, assembling generators and circuit boards as well as soldering.

Elaine grew up and attended high school in Hyde Park, NY. Although her high school offered opportunities to attend BOCES programs, Elaine was more interested in criminal justice at the time. After high school she attended Dutchess Community College to study criminal pathology. While there she learned about crime scene investigation and lab testing. While going to school Elaine began working at the Cardinal Hayes Home as a Habilitation Aide for disabled adults. She worked there for 14 years right out of high school and spent her time caring for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Manufacturing wasn’t a career path that she initially considered, but after spending a year living in Florida she was returning to New York and looking for a change in her career. Elaine’s mother works at Sono-Tek in the Purchasing Department and found out about an opening. Elaine decided to apply for the position, which she later said was the best choice she ever made.

Elaine told us that she’s learned so much from her time at Sono-Tek but the most notable difference is the culture. Coming from years of experience working in a group home she told us that the atmosphere at Sono-Tek is refreshing. Elaine’s mother also worked as an Electrical Assembler at Sono-Tek for 5 years before joining the Purchasing Department. When Elaine first started her mother was able to help train her and pass along some of her knowledge.

Elaine found out about the Apprentice Program from her supervisor, Vince Whipple. Shortly after learning about the program she registered under the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) trade.  May was her first full month in the program and she’s finding the experience to be valuable. “I love to learn.” Said Elaine. “Any kind of knowledge I can gain is important, especially being brand new, I’m going to jump on any opportunity I get.” So far she’s enjoyed the exposure to other departments that she’s gotten from being in the apprentice program. This month alone Elaine did preventative maintenance and lubrication on two CNC lathes as well as gauge verifications, responsibilities she wouldn’t otherwise be involved in.

The IMT trade has been popular with individuals like Elaine who are entering the manufacturing field for the first time and have an interest to learn and grow within the industry. All registered trades in the Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program require a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction hours.  It typically takes one year to complete the IMT program and requires 144 hours of related instruction as well as 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. In order to help apprentices achieve their 144 hours of related instruction, each individual is provided with a subscription to Tooling-U, an online learning platform created specifically for the manufacturing industry.

Since Elaine is new to manufacturing, she told us that everything she’s learned from her Tooling-U classes so far has been valuable. More specifically, the safety courses have been a huge help to her. Elaine began taking some of the introduction to OSHA courses offered by Tooling-U and the information has helped her perform better at work. Elaine is also in the process of taking courses at SUNY Ulster, some of which are eligible to count towards her related instruction hours. Last year SUNY Ulster received a SUNY Apprenticeship grant which allows apprentices like Elaine to receive up to $5,000 in free trade related courses.

The Council of Industry’s Apprentice Program currently offers six registered trades: Machinist (CNC)Electro-Mechanical TechnicianMaintenance MechanicQuality Assurance AuditorToolmaker and Industrial Manufacturing Technician and typically takes two to four years to complete. If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or jhansen@councilofindustry.org to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.