Working kids
Michael Hinton, an apprentice with the Hired program on Fort Sill, learns about geothermal heating from his mentor David Dold, mechanical engineer for Directorate of Public Works, at the Army Corps of Engineers project, 31st Air Defense Artillery compound, on Mow-Way Road.

Michael Hinton, a 10th grader at Eisenhower High School, is exploring a career in mechanical engineering - thanks to the Hired Apprenticeship Program.

Hinton and 11 other students are exploring career opportunities through the new program at the Fort Sill Youth Center. The program exposes youth, 15 to 18 years old, to experiences and training to equip them with skills needed in a highly-competitive job market. All jobs are on post, mostly through Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, but Amber Kalla, program coordinator, has been working with other agencies on post to fill the wishes of these kids to work in the fields they are interested in and to develop the necessary skills for that career field.

"I keep finding that I have students coming in at younger and younger ages, and they know what they want to do. They want to be engineers, nurses, doctors and other professions that are outside of the scope of the MWR programs," she said. "Hinton and several others are examples of students interested in jobs outside that scope."

"Ultimately, it is our hope to prepare Army youth to compete in the high-stakes job market of the future," Kalla said. "Through the program, young people are likely to build the essential skills needed to find success in the world of work."

Hinton said he saw the flyer for the Hired program at the Youth Center and decided he might like to be an apprentice. He applied for the current term, which ends Dec. 19.

Working with David Dold, a mechanical engineer with the Directorate of Public Works, Hinton said, "I like what I'm doing now - it's what I always wanted to do. I always liked toying with stuff and I have the interest and the ability to do it. I like looking at the real-life projects and seeing them when they are finished."

Hinton told Kalla he was interested in mechanical engineering and Kalla got out the staff directory and got in touch with the chief engineer.

"He was very interested in taking part in the Hired program," said Kalla. "I have another apprentice who is studying architecture engineering through DPW." Dold said, "I would definitely have another high school student as an intern - it's been fun having him ask questions. What I do as mechanical engineer isn't rocket science and it's not hard. For a high school student to come in and be interested is exciting for me. With his interest in engineering, the sky's the limit for what he can do in his career."

"The most interesting part to me is seeing the plan and then watching it become a reality. This is never boring - every day is different," Hinton said.

There are other rewards. Those who complete the 180 hour program receive a cash award. Unique Larry, a 13-year-old sophomore is an apprentice with Janet Tippeconnic, the EDGE program manager at the Youth Center.

"I thought that this would be very helpful for me in the real world," said Larry. "I had plans to get a job at some time, so this program helps me a lot."

Tippeconnic said she has been fortunate to have Larry as an intern.

"She does everything I ask her to do and I never have to ask her twice. She is pretty ideal as an intern."

The apprenticeship program accommodates special needs and is open to all youth registered through the Child, Youth and School Services registration office, now called the Parent Center Service. It also serves youth from Lawton and the surrounding area.

Page last updated Mon November 9th, 2009 at 10:48