A partnership between Ford Motor Company and Washtenaw Community College that started at the North American International Auto Show resulted in new jobs for (from left) WCC student Anthony Smith, alumnus Kenneth Legg and student Marcus Malnar. (Photo by Kelly Gampel)


Director of Media Relations

At this year’s North American International Auto Show, Michael Lacelle, modeling manager at Ford Motor Company met Experiential Learning Coordinator Barbara Hauswith from Washtenaw Community College’s Career Transitions department. He shared that he was looking for mill operators and inquired whether the college might have qualified students with training on milling machines.

He suggested Hauswirth reach out to Michael Check, CEO of Linkage Design, a design consultancy specializing in digital design that assists a multitude of companies, including Ford Motor Company, in finding industrial designers, digital modelers, clay modelers, and mill operators.

Using a milling operator job description from Check, students were informed of the job opportunity and many submitted résumés.

After reviewing the résumés, Check selected three applicants for interviews. Two were current WCC students, Anthony Smith (pursing Occupational Studies) and Marcus Malnar (Collision Repair and Refinishing). The third applicant, Kenneth Legg, was a WCC alumnus.

Smith and Legg trained on the college’s CNC lathes and mills, giving them skill sets Check knew Ford was looking for to operate its milling machines.

During the interview process, Check was impressed not only with their familiarity with the milling process — but they also had the requisite soft skills — enthusiasm, poise and a strong work ethic.

“I was confident they were up for a challenge and had the needed foundational skills,” said Check. “I saw raw talent, desire and passion. All walked in the door refined, ties on, résumés in hand. They were very well-prepared and came with a mindset to learn. I liked that.”

Check also observed that community colleges are doing a great job providing students with the tools they need to be prepared for the types of jobs he is looking to fill.

Based on Check’s recommendation, Lacelle hired Smith, Malnar and Legg [as purchased service employees through Linkage Design] to work at Ford in its interior clay milling design studio. “The students have been hired to operate our Tarus 5-Axis milling machines,” said Lacelle. “They will be working in our interior clay milling design studio.”

“We are very excited to start this partnership with Washtenaw Community College,” Lacelle continued. “Its students are well-equipped with the technical and working knowledge required to make a smooth transition into our fast-paced work environment.”

Legg, who graduated in May with an associate degree in mechatronics, credits his new job with his training at WCC.

“At WCC we trained on 3-5 Axis Haas CNC milling machines and lathes. At Ford, some of my job duties include setting up and operating the Tarus 5-Axis Clay Mill, importing program files from the processing team, packing and modeling clay onto interior foam designs and fabrication. I worked long and hard at WCC, and it’s paying off now with an excellent career. I seriously love this job!”

Legg credits Hauswirth for helping him find this job of his dreams.

“I’m excited that Ford considers WCC as a top contender for finding talented, skilled hires, said Hauswirth. “I’m confident this relationship will continue to grow. Our students get good paying jobs with opportunities for advancement and companies get an ongoing pipeline of trained, dependable new talent. It’s a win-win all the way around.” l

For more information about the college’s programming in its Advanced Transportation Center, visit www.wccnet.edu/atc.