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QCC Manufacturing Program Offers Real World Training

November, 2017
  • From left: QCC student Nick Voyer checks out a FANUC robot with Manufacturing Technology Professor, Damian Kiernan.
  • QCC Manufacturing Technology student, Nick Voyer.

At Quinsigamond Community College, successfully preparing students to enter the workforce is a key component of the college’s manufacturing and engineering programs. From collaborating with companies, staying abreast of the latest trends and technologies, to working with the latest manufacturing equipment, QCC’s manufacturing and engineering programs have advanced the careers of countless students.

One such student is Nick Voyer. Mr. Voyer is a Manufacturing Technology student who has come to QCC as part of a toolmaker apprentice program with Tegra Medical, headquartered in Franklin, MA.

Tegra Medical offers a four-year apprentice program that allows participants to enroll in a local engineering program. The company pays the tuition and participants continue to work at their jobs while attending college.

 Mr. Voyer is a five-year employee at Tegra Medical and was excited to be a part of the first group of employees who took advantage of the apprentice program. He said he saw this as a great way to advance his career both in the short and long-term, adding that had he not joined the apprentice program, he would not have had the motivation to go to college.

“I’m learning things I didn’t know before and I’m looking at things differently,” Mr. Voyer said. “The QCC manufacturing program is more hands-on and helps you figure things out by actually doing them.”

Traveling back and forth from his home in Gardner, to his job in Franklin, to classes at QCC’s main campus in Worcester, means Mr. Voyer logs many, many hours in drive time. While the logistics can sometimes be challenging, he said the practical experience he is getting at QCC is invaluable to him and his future. In May 2018 he will graduate with his associate degree in manufacturing technology.

Tegra Medical’s Director of Manufacturing, Brian Rua, said the company has also benefitted from the education Mr. Voyer is receiving at QCC.

“As an apprentice toolmaker, Nick has to do an extreme amount of math, as he works with metal components from scratch. The math skills he has learned have been very helpful in what he does,” Mr. Rua said. “He also took robotics classes, which directly relates to his work. These classes have also helped give him the ability to talk directly to the engineering and design groups.”

Toolroom Tech Lead Jeff Mercier heartily agrees. Mr. Mercier is Mr. Voyer’s immediate supervisor.

“The Solidworks and AutoCAD classes Nick took gave him the foundational theory of what we do and he applied that knowledge here. This helps both us and the college,” Mr. Mercier said.

“It’s great that even the AutoCAD that we work with at QCC is the same at my job. I work in the R&D side making new things,” Mr Voyer said. “Professors Lee (Duerden) and Damian (Kieran) are very knowledgeable. One of the things they had us do was a lot of presentations, which is something that really helped me in getting comfortable with public speaking. It boosted my confidence.”

In June 2017, Mr. Voyer earned the title of Journeyman Toolmaker and even went one step further by applying his new found confidence in public speaking to his work at Tegra Medical.

“I’m now a safety trainer at Tegra Medical for all the new hires,” he said. “QCC helped fill in the gaps of what I was learning at work with what I am learning at school. “

“It’s great to know that what we are teaching in the classroom is relevant in the real world,” said Professor Kiernan. “It’s also great to have Nick in class. We have real world conversations that everyone learns from.”

The future is bright for Mr. Voyer. He recently bought a house with his wife and is looking to continue his education with the goal of moving into engineering and transferring to Fitchburg State.

“I only have two classes left to take,” he said. “The time management has been tough, but the teachers at QCC have been great and I’ve learned a lot that I can use right away.”

“He’s a rare young man, very aggressive and always bettering himself. He has a high level of motivation and takes a more aggressive schedule than most folks in the apprentice program,” Mr. Rua said.