Aidan Bleser took to manufacturing early on.
“The concepts of manufacturing were part of my childhood,” says Bleser. “There was a lot of Lego-building, and stuff like that.”
Still, Bleser didn’t get a chance to hone his skills until high school, when he was accepted into a program that offered courses on manufacturing at a local college, St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas. Near the end of his program, his professors at St. Philip’s encouraged him to take the next step by signing up for the FAME program’s local chapter in Alamo.
The program: The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME), which was created by Toyota and is now overseen by The Manufacturing Institute, is a career pathway program for current and aspiring manufacturing workers. It provides them with on-the-job training and classroom education, leading to an associate degree and the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) certificate.
The experience: Through the program, Bleser was offered a role at Toyota, where he spent two years doing hands-on work while also accruing college credit.
- “FAME was great,” said Bleser. “The two years went by fast, and I enjoyed getting the college credit while still working part time. It helped the learning experience, being able to work while going to school.”
The people: Bleser also enjoyed working with other program participants as part of a group, getting to know individuals who were interested in manufacturing and even advising and mentoring younger students after his time in the program was up.
- “I’ve stayed in touch with people in my cohort, and I have mentored people in the younger cohort,” said Bleser. “That group dynamic is a great opportunity, because you can learn skills yourself and then teach them to other people.”
The job: Bleser graduated in May and was offered a full-time position at Toyota in August. He is now employed as a maintenance officer at Adient, one of Toyota’s on-site suppliers—and credits the FAME program with giving him the tools he needed to be successful.
- “I would recommend FAME to anyone,” said Bleser. “It prepares you really well. By the time you’re hired, you’re not a new face, and you’re used to the culture.”
The road ahead: Bleser’s experiences in the FAME program and at Toyota have shown him that there are opportunities available in manufacturing for people with all sorts of different talents and interests. He has big plans for the future:
- “I’d like to look into system integration, maybe opening some sort of company myself one day,” said Bleser. “I’ve also gotten more into application development on the software side, so I’d like to continue doing that, and hopefully develop some software that can be used throughout manufacturing.”
The last word: “There are so many ways to work in manufacturing,” said Bleser. “From maintenance, to quality, to logistics, to management, there are a lot of different places you could find yourself. Anybody with any skill set could be valued.”