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'Shadowing' benefits students and businesses

Few people get to sit in the cockpit of an Airbus 8320. For Leon Situ, an eighth-grader from Central High School, that was the highlight of his Job Shadow Day.

Few people get to sit in the cockpit of an Airbus 8320. For Leon Situ, an eighth-grader from Central High School, that was the highlight of his Job Shadow Day.
"It's awesome to sit in the pilot seat. It's a once in a lifetime thing," Situ said with a great big smile.
On Friday, Situ and five other eighth-graders participated in Job Shadow Day at the Northwest Maintenance Facility.
Central High School students Ryan Palmquist, Situ, Joel Buck and Kyle Ager, along with Joe Durheim from Hermantown and Chris Speikers from Ordean, were given a tour of the facility and even did some hands-on work themselves with the mechanics.
Approximately 130 students and 140 businesses participated in Job Shadow Day, a Partnerships North program that offers Duluth and Hermantown students a first-hand look at what it's like to be on the job.
Students visited bank employees, a pediatric chiropractor, local athletic departments, auto dealerships and more.
The program has benefits for both students and businesses, said Chris Olafson of Partnerships North. While the students gain a better understanding of the work force and what careers they want to have, businesses are enhancing the quality of their future employees, she said.
On Friday, the Budgeteer News was able to tag along with the six fortunate shadowers at the Northwest Maintenance Facility.
Students in the Job Shadow program wrote resumes indicating their interests and filled out job applications. Students at Ordean also were given aptitude tests to determine their assignments.
Speikers said he went to the facility because he scored high in dexterity with large tools, not because his dad is a mechanic there.
Mark Oakes, a mechanic, gave students a tour of the airplanes being worked on at the facility. They toured the welding shop, the composite shop, the engineer's office, the metrology lab, the machine shop and the seat shop.
At one point, the six boys crowded into the Airbus 8320 cockpit while Oakes explained to them what each gauge, button and screen did.
"Pilots have a pretty easy job as long as us mechanics do our job," Oakes told the students.
After the tour the students were split up to work with some of the mechanics.
Speikers went with employee Mike Johnson in Metrology.
"He's learning to be an electrician," Johnson said.
Situ and Buck worked with Rob Tuominen in the machine shop, where bolts and other parts are made with computer aided machinery.
Ager was able to do some hands-on work with Bill Arnold in the Composite Shop, where crack repairs are made. Ager helped repair damaged composite material on a small airplane part.
Palmquist was dropped off at the seat shop with employee Terry Klun. They checked for corrosion, inspected the seats and worked on the hydraulics of one seat.
Durheim explored the engineering department with Mark Oakes. In his resume, Durheim said he wants to be an aerospace engineer, which is why he was placed at the facility.
"There's a real need to spark an interest in children and high school students in aviation or technical career fields," said Susan Drumsta, one of three operations managers at the facility. "If they get out in the workfield and see people doing their job, it sparks an interest."
Oakes said he was impressed with the students and the questions they asked.
"I just think it's impressive that kids are actually interested in jobs and what people do, and not just ask 'hey dude, how fast does it go,' " Oakes said.
By the end of the day, it was evident that both the students and the mechanics had a good time.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a lot better than being a lawyer or something like that," said Ager, who has a pretty good idea of what he doesn't want to be in the future.

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