KMC Systems continued its partnership last year with Nashua Community College’s Microelectronics Boot Camp, visiting the class in December to discuss the company’s life-saving work and opportunities for NCC students to get involved.
Roger Rhynehart, KMC’s director of program management, established a relationship with the school after joining the company four years ago. He has visited the boot camp to speak with students there for the last three years.
“In my tenure for KMC Systems, we’ve had a number of hiring ramps, and we’re looking at trying to gain as much local talent as we can to support that growth,” Rhynehart said. “Some of the skills that they’re learning in this boot camp are directly relevant to the job openings we will have over the next few years.”
Standing before a group of roughly 10 students, masked and socially distant, Rhynehart explained KMC’s work in the in vitro diagnostics space and how lessons from the boot camp would be applied on KMC’s manufacturing floors. He also fielded questions on career development and life in the workforce of a top medical diagnostics manufacturer.
“I’m inspired by the level of focus that the folks have here and the level of confidence that they have in what they’re doing,” Rhynehart said. “I’m encouraged to see the talent, the raw talent that is in showcase here.”
The boot camp offers students a chance to learn a wide range of technical skills, including dye attach, wire bonding and assembly. Jonathan Mason, NCC’s workforce coordinator, said the program also features lessons in microscope work, lean manufacturing and soft skills, such as punctuality and conflict resolution.
Mason said Rhynehart’s relatable presentation reassured his students, who often hear from company executives with college degrees who speak “from 10,000 feet.”
“They thrive on knowing there is opportunity ahead with fast-growing, exciting companies,” Mason said.
This year, Rhynehart brought along William Sorensen, a quality engineer at KMC. Sorensen shared his background and discussed how he built a successful career without a college degree.
“When we look at all the other companies we’ve spoken with, it’s, ‘You’ve got to go to college to do this, you’ve got to go to college to do that,’” said Matthew Allard, a student in the boot camp who came to NCC after working as a mechanic. “You brought in somebody who showed us that you don’t have to do that. It’s not always about the degree, it’s about how hard you’re willing to work.”
Creating Innovation Through Opportunity
Rhynehart and Sorensen both emphasized the importance of the opportunities KMC offers to receive mentorship from more experienced members of the company.
“I never would be where I am if other people hadn’t believed in me when I was their age and given me the opportunity to succeed through mentoring and partnership,” Sorensen said.
Following the talk, several students expressed interest in careers at KMC Systems.
“I see Elbit as an opportunity, absolutely,” said student Vitor Barbieri, referring to KMC’s corporate parent, Elbit America. “I would say maybe, in the near future, Elbit would be a good option for me, especially on the medical side.”
Allard said he asked Mason to send his résumé to KMC following the presentation.
“It would feel great knowing that I could help save lives — knowing that I am helping create machines that are going to help…everybody get the diagnosis that they need,” Allard said.
As KMC continues to ramp up hiring to meet the demand for coronavirus testing instruments, Rhynehart said he hopes some of the boot camp students find their way to KMC’s manufacturing floors.
“I’ve known a lot of family members who have already had and suffered COVID,” said Trevor Michael Bastek, a student in the class. “I was even out a week because of COVID, so if I can find a way to help kill this virus, I’ll do it.”
Mason, who spent years before his tenure at NCC in the mortgage industry, said that helping his students turn their lives around and reach personal milestones, like buying a car, continues to inspire his work.
“We’re not getting paid a lot of money to work at a community college,” Mason said. “But our reward is when [our students] go get a good job and they are saving lives and they come back to us and say, ‘Oh, I made part of this and it’s going to this hospital.’
“Their pride is our pride.”