By TACOM Public AffairsMarch 7, 2018
(Editor's note: The following article is part of a series of stories from U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command newsletters in 1968. The acronyms "ATAC" and "TACOM" are interchangeable throughout this series. This story ran in the March 1968 issue of "The Detroit Arsenal News.")
An engineering technician training program has been under way in Vehicular Components and Materials Laboratory since January, 1967, in an attempt to recruit new qualified personnel.
The training is needed because of a shortage of technicians in the Detroit labor market. The program was set up by Albert Barry, Jr., of the Civilian Personnel Office, as the Coordinator of Intern and Cooperative Education Program. Franklyn Bergsman is the Coordinator for the Laboratory.
ATAC is working with several local schools to give students the opportunity to receive on-the-job training while they are in school. Provisions have been made which allow a prospective technician to work full or part-time while attending classes. The program also permits the student to come here on a co-op basic, working three months and going to school three months. Job training starts after he has completed the first of two years in school.
The Automotive Components Division currently has nine trainees -- four co-ops, two full-time employees who are part-time students, and three part-time students who are full-time students. The group represents Macomb County Community College and Lawrence Institute of Technology.
While they are here, the trainees perform routine tasks in the laboratory -- assembling test setups, mounting test samples and collecting data -- under the supervision of a journeyman technician.
After completing his second year of college, the trainee is expected to become a full-time employee, where he will receive two additional years of on-the-job training to achieve journeyman status.
The success of this program is important for several reasons. First, the technicians who work in hazardous areas such as the Cold Room and Fording Basin must pass an annual physical examination. This program will provide trained replacements for those technicians who do not meet the rigorous physical standards. Second, the program will provide trained replacements for those technicians who, because of their training and experience gained in the Laboratory, are qualified for positions in other areas and, finally, the program will provide trained replacements for the skilled technicians as they retire. Then, too, some of the trainees, realizing that the two years of college put them well on the way to becoming an engineer, stay in school to earn that engineering degree.
Another reason for its importance is the fact that a journeyman technician has training and experience which qualify him to work in other areas and perhaps earn more money.
Although the program has been in effect for only a little more than a year, it appears to be off to a successful beginning.