Seven Hills Partners with MassMEP to Train Individuals with Disabilities for Careers in Technology
On February 9, Kelly O’Brien was one of 11 individuals to receive advanced computer numerical control (CNC) training certification, qualifying her and her classmates as accredited CNC operators. The training is a workforce-readiness program of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP). Committed to success in manufacturing, MassMEP transforms companies through solutions focused on innovative growth, operational excellence, and workforce development.
Kelly, of Malden, MA, has been a resident of a Seven Hills Foundation NeuroCare program for the past two years. This highly intelligent, exceedingly motivated young woman is the first individual to complete the rigorous CMC training through a new partnership between Seven Hills and MassMEP to train bright, inspired individuals supported by Seven Hills for manufacturing careers.
CNC operation is a highly specialized position found principally in production companies. CNC operators handle computer-programmed machinery that performs a wide variety of functions, such as drilling, cutting, or shaping materials. CNC is critical to the production of nearly all manufactured parts, from medical devices, to aeronautical parts, to military equipment.
“Kelly has worked hard and shown the drive and determination to take advantage of this opportunity to build a career path in a sector that is highly sought and needed,” said Trudy Dould, vocational rehabilitation counselor at Seven Hills, who has worked with Kelly along her ambitious journey. “Throughout this training Kelly showcased her remarkable abilities, and refused to let her disability present an obstacle to pursuing her dreams.” Seven Hills will obtain a special, motorized wheelchair to enable Kelly to achieve a vertical, standing position to assist her at CNC work.
“I’ve always been good at math and technology, so I applied for this training through Seven Hills ASPiRE! program in Worcester,” Kelly said. Starting with instruction in blueprint reading and shop math, she scored high on the qualification exams. “My classes started at 6 a.m., and I’ve always been a night owl, so I’m thankful to my staff for making sure I got to class on time.”
What began as an idea to train people with autism for careers in manufacturing morphed into a pilot project broadened to include people with other disabilities. “Seven Hills is committed to partner with MassMEP to provide manufacturing training to some of the individuals we support,” said Dr. David A. Jordan, President of Seven Hills. “This is a wonderful opportunity to educate and empower people to live the valued and meaningful life they choose, while providing Massachusetts manufacturers with great employees.”
Starting last December, Kelly and her classmates spent eight weeks in an intensive classroom and hands-on curriculum to prepare for jobs as CNC operators, including study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The MassMEP curriculum combines classroom instruction, virtual simulation, and hands-on training. In addition, students receive training to develop work-readiness skills—highly valued assets in today’s fast-moving manufacturing environment. The training program was funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program.
Kelly has applied for CNC jobs at several local, high-profile companies. “Like all job applicants,” she said, “I’m waiting for the phone to ring.” This confident, motivated, intelligent woman is opening doors and opening eyes to the vast potential of people who don’t let a disability stand in the way of their career ambitions.
Seven Hills Foundation provides exceptional integrated clinical, educational, and community-based supports to children and adults with disabilities and significant life challenges. Supporting over 45,000 individuals, the 3,800 professional staff members at Seven Hills are passionate about their work, which helps people SEE the possibilities, BELIEVE in their abilities, and ACHIEVE their dreams.