SAN DIEGO — A new plastics tooling apprenticeship program starts this month at San Diego City College, and broader vocational training to learn plastics molding processes begins at Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley, Calif.
Both initiatives have the support of a group of San Diego-area plastics processors and technical program administrators and instructors. They organized within the past year as a Round Table for Education for the San Diego plastics industry.
``The Round Table was instrumental in bringing the players together, focusing the need and developing the concept,'' said Chris M. Mitchell of Poway, Calif., chairman of the Round Table and the San Diego branch newsletter editor for the Society of Plastics Engineers. ``We would not see any plastics programs in San Diego if it was not for the efforts of the Round Table.''
Custom injection molder Nypro San Diego Inc. will support the tooling apprenticeship program for two people at the college's Center for Applied Competitive Technologies. ``We are working with the college on the curriculum and envision a five-year program,'' said Alexis Crump, human resources manager for Nypro San Diego in Chula Vista, Calif.
Crump and tooling manager Dave Lemke have contacted high school counselors in an effort to spark interest in the program. The students ``must be accepted to the apprenticeship program through us, have to enroll in school and complete course work and must put in time in the toolroom,'' Crump said.
The goal: fully qualified tool and die makers who have academic credits approaching an associate of arts degree.
At Mount Miguel, instructor Tom McGrath is broadening a plastics training program in place since 1973 and reestablishing a shop that experienced devastating losses in a June fire.
``We are switching emphasis to the molding trades,'' McGrath said. ``The goal is to train students for entry-level positions in the plastics industry,'' particularly in reinforced material molding for boat and recreational markets.
The Regional Occupation Program within the Grossmont Union High School District picks up the cost of insurance, and the employer provides space and training but no wage.
The course, ``Plastics and Composites Manufacturing,'' broadens a former offering, ``Plastics and Fiberglass Manufacturing.''
The June 3 fire caused about $8,000 damage to materials and equipment in the high school's plastics shop and required structural and cosmetic repairs with a value of about $30,000. Materials included full sheets of acrylic, rolls of bagging film and fiberglass and some molds, patterns and jigs.
Initial speculation centered on the switch in a rotational molding machine, but the San Miguel Fire Protection District lists ``undetermined origin'' now in lieu of a verifiable cause.
The San Diego plastics industry's Round Table for Education has established a Web site at http://www.plasticsnet.com/mbr/chairman.