HEBRON, Conn. (AP) — RHAM High School senior Jacob Arseneault uses a lathe to cut and shape a motorcycle engine stand in his Manufacturing for Industry class. As he inspects the machine's digital loadout, he's making sure that none of his measurements are even a hair off from the blueprint.

"You can't fix things with a hammer in this class," Arseneault said.

The class, which started at the end of January, prepares students with the technical skills that will allow them to get jobs at Electric Boat, Pratt & Whitney, and other area manufacturers after graduation.

Some of these jobs have entry-level salaries that approach $60,000, plus benefits, said Samantha Schadtle, RHAM's coordinator for career and technical education programs.

RHAM's program is a pilot within a broader state-level pipeline program intended to meet a high-demand for workers in advanced manufacturing jobs. It's among the first high schools to adapt the curriculum, which was designed for community colleges.

Manufacturing teacher Eric Soucie started by training the students in safety practices, then taught reading blueprints, math for manufacturing, and precision instruments.

The students' first hands-on manufacturing assignment was to craft simple shop tools — step cones and C-clamps.

"They're learning how to use and set up the lathe," Soucie said. "They're learning to use precision measuring devices, taking fractions, turning to decimals, and figuring out the tolerance and their spread — how much can they go above, how much can they go below."

State and company officials from the pipeline program come in frequently to teach lessons and see how the program is developing. A career fair in late April will let the students meet with potential employers.

Throughout the course, there's also a focus on punctuality and teamwork. The students have to punch a clock whenever they come in to get full credit for their work.

"If they're going to miss time they have to send me an email ahead of time and work it out, hopefully having a good excuse for it," Soucie said. "They have to be accountable for the work. It's on them more so than elsewhere in high school."

RHAM senior Samuel Bell is taking this as his fourth class in Soucie's department. He hopes to finish this training, find a job in manufacturing, and eventually work for the Navy, like most of his family.

"Our parents have said they wished this class could have been there for them," said Bell, who lives in Hebron.

His classmate Jacob Arseneault, who is taking this as his sixth manufacturing class, started the engine stand for a previous class and moved it forward for this one.

"I want to finish this program and then get a job at a big company like Electric Boat or Pratt & Whitney for the opportunities that they offer, like other jobs or college," he said. "College doesn't seem right for me right now — I want to work — but this way the opportunity is there."

Schadtle said students can get entry-level jobs in manufacturing and from there pursue degrees in engineering or technology.

"Employers will want them to get more education, and they'll reimburse them for it," Schadtle said. "That opportunity is not taken away from them, but they're starting out with high-demand, high-wage jobs."

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Information from: Journal Inquirer, http://www.journalinquirer.com

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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