Hard work pays off

Manufacturing Department head receives prestigious award

By Chris Skarnulis, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Schoolcraft prides itself in many different categories of excellence including the accomplishments achieved in the departments of instruction.
One of the academic departments that have recently been awarded for its excellence is the manufacturing department. Longtime Schoolcraft manufacturing instructor Gene Keyes had it in his mind for nearly 15 years to make the college’s manufacturing program exceptional on both a state and national level. Now that dream has become a reality as Schoolcraft was awarded the 2015 Clips and Clamps Educational Institution Award as part of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Awards of Excellence in Metalforming. Clips and Clamps was awarded to Schoolcraft for its exceptional manufacturing program that aims to prepare students for careers in present day manufacturing.
Keyes’ interest in manufacturing began in 1973. His interest soon grew into a passion, and eventually a teaching career where Keyes has been a member of the Schoolcraft faculty since 2001. He has since instilled his passion to his students and continues to develop the manufacturing program through many outlets.
In order to improve the manufacturing program even further, Schoolcraft partnered with the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce and local industries to recruit and promote a skilled workforce for those industries. In return for the help they receive, these industries in turn support Schoolcraft’s manufacturing department by providing verbal instruction and machinery.
Keyes’ intention is to work with these local industries to gain information and inspiration, to continue bettering his department. Keyes’ unique teaching strategies continue to keep his student’s interest in manufacturing peaked. He finds his methods make his students more energetic and eager to learn.
“Our teaching strategy in the manufacturing department is to be very hands-on. We focus on occupational instruction that revolves around the type of job you’re trying to get,” said Keyes.
Not only do students enjoy his handson learning approach, they enjoy the real world skills they acquire in the duration of the class.
Keyes maintains contact with many former students he sees potential in during their time at Schoolcraft. He deems these students passionate and he assists them in their careers in manufacturing showing just how much Keyes truly cares about his students.
“Since taking classes with Gene Keyes I have expanded my machining knowledge hands on at work. Gene has helped me place employees and I go to the Industrial Council meetings in support of him and the Manufacturing department,” said Paul Scalici, a former student of Keyes who credits his success in manufacturing in part to Keyes.
“What we’re doing here in the manufacturing department is on a national level. We’re not doing things “okay” at our local level, we are prime examples to other colleges and states,” said Keyes.
Along with the award came a cash prize, and Keyes plans to utilize that money to create a manufacturing scholarship in the department.
The manufacturing administration is equally impressed with Keyes’ accomplishment, and was glad to hear what he intended to do with the money. Mr. Robert Leadley, head of the manufacturing department is proud to have worked so closely with Keyes.
“The real credit goes to Gene Keyes; he’s a great asset to our staff. He’s been actively involved in this program in the time he’s been an instructor here. His vast knowledge in manufacturing and his great industry connections have helped get us where we are today,” said Leadley.
Gene Keyes has dedicated countless hours of his time to get the college’s manufacturing department where it is today. His caring demeanor and passion for manufacturing has allowed him to aid both his students and the community in their passion as well. Through the examination of his achievements, it’s safe to say that Keyes will continue to evolve the manufacturing department in a positive way.