In 2012, Rj Link International hired Matt Rossiter as a gear machinist and entered him into the Rock River Valley Tooling & Machining Association Apprenticeship Program (RRVTMA). Matt had spent four years in the Air Force after graduating from high school, and then went into retail management for 13 years at a large store in the Rockford, IL area. Matt had never considered a career in manufacturing before meeting with the owner of Rj Link Int. — Rod Link — to talk about an apprenticeship program. That meeting was the beginning of Matt’s path into manufacturing.
The 4-year apprenticeship program would involve taking classes at Rock Valley College, while working full time at Rj Link Int. Although Matt passed a mechanical aptitude test, his biggest challenge was that he had no exposure to the manufacturing industry, and no experience with machines. Matt initially started off job shadowing, and was able to get hands-on experience in each department.
Matt reflects back on his introduction to the manufacturing industry. He stated, “Rj Link took a chance on me when I had little or no experience in this field, and entered me into the apprenticeship program. It has been a great experience, and the program has allowed me to totally change my career and life. This has opened pathways and new possibilities for an engineering career in manufacturing — something that probably would not have been available without Rj Link setting me up in the apprenticeship program.”
Although Matt started out with no manufacturing experience, some of his responsibilities have included the set up and operation of Rj Link’s hobbing, broaching and gear grinding machines, as well as operating lathes, mills and working in assembly. On March 24, 2017 Matt received his Journeyman Gear Cutting Machinist Certificate. Matt expressed that by Rj Link investing time, money, and giving him the opportunity to train hands-on, will make him a better engineer if he decides to pursue that pathway in manufacturing.
To achieve the Journeyman Gear Cutting Machinist Certificate, each apprentice must complete the following:
Gear Cutting: 3,000 hours
Gear Finishing: 2,000 hours
Secondary Gear Operations: 500 hours
Deburring: 500 hours
Inspection: 1,000 hours
Tool Sharpening: 500 hours
Customizable time for Apprentice/Company: 500 hours