All In A Days Work: The Story of a SAMI Graduate

Wearing a 10-pound helmet and wielding a firey torch is in all in a day’s work now for a Cranston woman.

Kierstyn Ebbeling has just completed an eight-week training welding training program that helps unemployed Rhode islanders connect with jobs in the marine trades and manufacturing industries.

The Shipbuilding/Marine and Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI) at the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) recruits, screens, and trains individuals for high demand careers in these industries at no cost to participants.

“I thought of the SAMI program because I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had always been interested in mechanical things, but, being a small-framed woman, my options were obviously limited,” said Ebbeling.

“Through the SAMI program, I was able to meet the instructors and they opened me up to the world of welding, which I had tried in high school and I really enjoyed, but had never thought of as a career path,” she said.

According to NEIT, 90 percent of SAMI graduates are already working for companies including Blount Boats, Senesco Marine and Electric Boat. Ebberling cannot believe how far she has come since beginning the training program in March.

“I love welding. I could do it all day. I could watch YouTube videos about it all day. It’s something, you know, to be able to go and work at Electric Board and have them set me up welding right away. That is like a dream come true,” she said.

Ebbeling even stars in a video that is being used to promote the SAMI program to potential students.

“Some of the first women that you saw welding were the Wendy Welders of World War II and those welders were working on marine crafts. Wendy the Welder was a ship builder. I’m going to end up going into shipbuilding and it’s just kind of cool having that connection between the present and the past,” she explained.

NEIT staff worked closely with local companies to develop the curriculum, training programs and laboratories that will give Rhode Islanders the skills needed to be successful in the job market

“It’s a terrific example of how Rhode Island’s private educational institutions of higher education can help the state in its effort for economic development,” said NEIT President Dr. Richard Gouse. “New England Tech is going to train those employees with those specific skills. So from that point of view, it’s a win for everybody and an important thing for Rhode Island.”

Funding  for the program came from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Governor’s Workforce Board and the Rhode Island Foundation.

“We saw this as an opportunity to link unemployed and under-employed Rhode Islanders with local employers, leverage the training resources of a local institution, and highlight the importance of these industries to our community,” said Foundation president and CEO Neil Steinberg.

The Foundation’s $50,000 grant for SAMI grew out of its Make It Happen RI initiative, which develops proposals that will jumpstart the state’s economy.

“This funding achieves two goals. Helping companies grow by closing the so-called skills gap and getting people trained quickly so they can get back to work and into solid, good-paying jobs,” said Steinberg.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visitwww.rifoundation.org.

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