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Machine Tool Tech Students Receive $3,000 Scholarships

Minnesota-based Graco, a leading provider of premium pumps and spray equipment for fluid handling in the construction, manufacturing, processing and maintenance industries, provided scholarships to two Power of YOU students in Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) Machine Tool Technology program. The goal of the scholarships is to set students on the path to productive careers in metal manufacturing and processing industries. Micheal Esposito and Sophia Kuusisto were chosen to receive grants in the amount of $3,000 each.

“Together, Graco and MCTC recognize manufacturing is critical to the U.S. economy, and people are needed at every level of an organization from running state-of-the-art machines to leading teams both locally and globally,” said Kim Munson, MCTC Machine Tool Technology faculty. “Entry-level machining positions can pay from $20–$25 per hour, with opportunities to exceed $30 per hour as an individual rises to the top of the pay scale over the course of six to seven years. This scholarship allows Micheal and Sophia to study for a career that has tremendous opportunity for growth.”

Graco scholarship winnersMicheal Esposito – Following a Family Tradition

Micheal Esposito follows a long line of family members who worked with their hands. His great grandfather was a machinest and his grandfather a carpenter. When Micheal’s older brother started spending time in the machine shop at South High School, Micheal followed suit. Ultimately, Micheal spent three years working in the school’s shop as a student, classroom aid and mentor.

During his time at South, Micheal found another mentor, former MCTC Postsecondary Education Options student Philip Mestenhauser, who studied Machine Tool Technology at MCTC and now works on the West Coast in the industry. Philip encouraged Micheal’s interest in machine tool and introduced him to Kim Munson. Micheal’s educational career at MCTC took off from there and this fall he’ll begin his second year in the program, working toward his AAS degree.

“I’m committed to the industry and have found I’m gaining solid experience at MCTC for high-demand careers,” said Micheal who aspires to move out west by the fall of 2018 and work as a prototyper. “Prototyping fuels my interest in working on a diversity of projects, I’m thankful for the scholarship which helps make it all possible.”

Graco scholarship winnersSophia Kuusisto – Forging a New Path

Sophia Kuusisto’s interest in Machine Tool Technology was sparked in a South High School shop class that promoted the benefits of entering the fields of metals manufacturing and processing. “I always knew the importance of earning a technical degree,” said Sophia who recalls family friends from Germany who shared that everyone in the country was encouraged to have a technical degree before pursuing other interests. “A degree in Machine Tool Technology gives me a solid foundation to pursue many careers including one of my areas of interest: engineering.”

“When I started in the Machine Tool Technology Program, I couldn’t name the average tools you’d find in a toolbox,” said Sophia who now has her own toolbox, courtesy of the Graco scholarship. “I now know the tools of the trade and I’m operating every machine in the shop. Long-term, I have an interest in working as a CNC programmer.”

Sophia strongly encourages women to pursue a degree in the field. “It can be challenging being one of the only women in the shop. However, I’ve had an extremely positive experience in the program,” said Sophia. “MCTC is a great place to study and the education is extremely affordable."

Read this story and more in the spring 2014 edition of The Groove magazine!