The world of manufacturing is changing from assembly lines to automation and robotics.
“I'm the one who fixes the machines. It’s really cool and scary in a way. These machines are worth millions of dollars. It’s like walking into the Borg Cube on Star Trek. The robots are so advanced, they can make the smallest things that go into your phone.”
Austin Community College District (ACC) Manufacturing student Ashly Mattke plans to graduate in summer 2021. She is also participating in the Samsung Apprenticeship through ACC.
“It’s hard to work a full-time job, go to school, and take care of my kids. This program lets me work a few days a week at Samsung and take classes on other days. Samsung not only pays for my classes and books, but I get paid to work, I get benefits, and paid time off. This program allows me a lot of opportunities and experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Before finding her way to ACC, Ashly’s life was on a much different path. She left home when she was 15, got married, and had two children. They struggled financially and at times experienced homelessness, living in abandoned houses and under bridges. Ashly began working multiple minimum wage jobs to support her children.
“I ended up meeting someone, and he was my guardian angel. He really showed me that I can do so much more than I was. One day I was dropping my kids off at school and I saw a flyer for free GED courses through ACC. I signed up and gave myself a deadline to make this happen.”
After taking a few classes, Ashly passed her GED test and immediately registered for courses. She earned an associate degree in Government, but wanted to keep going because she realized it wasn’t the right fit.
“I spoke with one of my teachers and she told me to look into manufacturing. I was good at math, and I liked seeing how things worked.”
Manufacturing careers have grown almost 20 percent in the last five years. Austin’s manufacturing industry is a $12.3 billion industry, with more than 57,000 jobs available.
“Austin is exploding. There are many great companies here. In my line of work I have many career options here.”
For Ashly, persisting to her goals is about more than just herself.
“It's very important to keep pushing on because, what else can you do? You can't give up. I’m a single mom now, and I do it for my kids. I want them to know that you have to follow what you want. I am going to school and doing everything to give them a better life. I was homeless and on the wrong path for many years. But now I am an honors student and working at a great job because of what ACC has given me.”
To learn more about the college’s manufacturing program, visit austincc.edu/manufacturing.