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FHS seniors job shadow at Alcoa Inc.

Alcoa Inc. Plant Protection’s Jeff Richardt (right) discusses Tennessee’s fire protection system with Farragut High School students Zack Snow (center) and Ryan Barrett.- Photo submitted
ALCOA – Farragut High School seniors Ryan Barrett and Zack Snow took part in the Farragut Math Academy internship at Alcoa Tennessee Operations in Blount County.

The program is designed to provide a job shadowing experience for high school seniors and expose them to potential career opportunities.

The students spent time at the plant from August through December 2011, with experiences including everything from learning about metallurgy to calculating storm water flow.

“We got a general look at what goes on day-to-day in a factory industrial setting,” Barrett said. “It was great. You can’t replace what we learned at Alcoa with classroom experience.”

Snow was impressed with what he learned about filtration and external energy created in a reconstructive wetland. “We learn a lot in the classroom,” he said, “but you don’t put it to use until you apply it in a real work experience.”

“These future engineering students now have a real good feeling of what Alcoa does,” Alcoa Environmental Manager and Farragut resident Stephanie Sparkman said.

“We not only give students an idea of what a manufacturing environment is like, this is also an opportunity to connect with local schools and open up doors to grow our potential workforce,” Sparkman added.

Wanda Lacy, FHS Math Department teacher, agrees that the program is a great experience for students.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to have our students placed at Alcoa,” Lacy said.

“It is an incredible opportunity for them to extend their learning beyond the classroom. Our math department was very impressed with their knowledge and excitement about their experience at Alcoa.”

Sparkman will be sponsoring and hosting another Farragut High School student — Gabrielle Spickard — at Alcoa during the spring semester, she said.

While at Alcoa, the students also learned about the company’s community involvement.

“I had no idea what kind of influence Alcoa has in the community,” Snow said. “It was good to see environmental responsibility in the community. It’s a good company.”

Alcoa’s Tennessee Operations is the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminum can sheet for beverage cans. Locally, it employs about 1,100 at its recycling and fabrication plants in Blount County, its hydropower facilities and its downtown Knoxville office.

Alcoa Inc. recently announced it is shutting down its smelter operation in Alcoa, which was idled in 2009, later this year. Alcoa spokesman Michael Belwood said the existing 1,000 jobs related to the rolling mill and recycling plant in East Tennessee are unaffected. The 2009 curtailment affected 450 jobs.


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