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Cody Powell and Rikayla Johnson


ody Powell already had mapped out academic and career plans when he graduated from Pickens High School in 2012 at age 17. He would enter Tri-County’s Industrial Electronics Technology (IET) program with scholarships, including LIFE, earn his degree, and get a good-paying job at a local


Just one year later, those goals are lining up much quicker than he anticipated. “Things have really played out well,” said Cod , who is among a select group chosen for the Michelin Scholars program. With Michelin covering the cost of tuition, fees, and books, he will graduate debt free and this time next year hopes to be working a dream job at Michelin.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope to work at Michelin for the rest of my life. It’s a great company that treats its employees well. Many of the associates at the Sandy Springs plant (where he works) have been there 35-plus years. To me, that says something.”

10 | YourCommuni y,YourCollege

Michelin Scholars Program Is Intro to Lifelong Career Path

The top concern of today’s manufacturers is finding skilled workers, especially young people like Cod , who possess the technical (math and science), as well as the soft skills needed for today’s sophisticated workplace. Another concern is that high school students aren’t looking at manufacturing as an option when choosing career paths. There’s still a misconception that they would be performing menial tasks on an assembly line.

Michelin representatives say the company’s more aggressive promotion of the Technical Scholars Program is a response to the nationwide skilled labor shortage all industry is facing toda , as well as a way to change the misperception many young people have that manufacturing jobs are routine, low paying, and dirty.

“The image of manufacturing has not changed as rapidly as the reality has in our work place. We need a skilled workforce that is ready and able to work in a high-tech environment. Today’s manufacturing is safe, clean, and highly automated,” said Steve Burry formerly in Michelin’s Corporate Employee Relations Department.

Rikayla Johnson, an IET major from Seneca, had attended several two- and four-year colleges and had changed majors several times before finding her niche in Tri-County’s IET department. But manufacturing wasn’t always a lifelong career goal of hers. “When I was younger, I vowed never to have a plant job because I viewed it as monotonous assembly line work. I didn’t know about the other technical opportunities,” she said. But after talking with her father and working a summer job in manufacturing, she saw other options and became very interested. “I said I want to do what they are doing one day.”

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