Four years ago Matt Rossiter was hired into an Apprenticeship Program by Rj Link International. Matt had spent four years in the Air Force after graduating from high school, and then went into retail management for 13 years at a large store in the Rockford, IL area. Matt had never considered a career in manufacturing before meeting with the owner of Rj Link Int., Rod Link, to talk about an Apprenticeship Program. That meeting was the beginning of Matt’s path into manufacturing.
In Nov of 2012 Rj Link Int. hired Matt as a gear machinist, and entered him into the Rock River Valley Tooling & Machining Association Apprenticeship Program (RRVTMA). This was the start of a 4 year program that would involve taking classes at Rock Valley College. Although Matt passed a mechanical aptitude test, his biggest challenge was that he had no exposure to the manufacturing industry, and no experience with machines. He started off job shadowing, and was able to get some hands on experience in each department. Matt learned how to run the mills, lathes, and has spent the majority of his time in the Hobbing Dept.
Matt is currently in his final year of the RRVTMA program, and has been working full time while taking classes. Matt reflects back and states, “Rj Link took a chance on me when I had little or no experience in this field, and entered me into the Apprenticeship program. It has been a great experience, and the program has allowed me to totally change my career and life. This has opened pathways and new possibilities for engineering careers in manufacturing, that probably would not have been available without Rj Link setting me up in the Apprenticeship Program.”
Although Matt started out with no manufacturing experience, he is now responsible for the set up and operation of Rj Link’s hobbing and broaching machines, and is in the process of training on set up for gear grinding. Upon completion of the Apprenticeship Program, Matt will be a Journeymen Machinist, and is looking at pursuing further education in engineering through the Rock Valley College-NIU partnership. Matt expressed that by Rj Link investing time, money, and giving him the opportunity to train hands on, it will make him a better engineer as he pursues that pathway in manufacturing.