East Hartford Resident Returns to Manufacturing Workforce

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Roland Lester
Manchester, CT – (October 31, 2012) . . . When he left Connecticut some years ago, Roland Lester was an experienced tool and die maker. That’s why he was surprised to find he could not find a job as a machinist when he returned. “Technology these days is completely changed,” the 54-year-old observes. While he was working in New Mexico, “I fell behind.” That is no longer the case.

Born in Panama to an American father and Panamanian mother, Lester came to the United States after graduating high school in 1977. He was 19 at the time. He joined the U.S. Army and spent eight years in logistics before attending technical school and starting a career as a machinist in the Waterbury area.

He worked for years there, making, among other things, battery cases; and helping raise his two children, Roland Jr., now a member of the U.S. Air Force, and Marilyn Lester, an insurance agent in Hartford.

Divorce led him to leave Connecticut for New Mexico, however, and he got a job making airplane parts there. When he eventually came back to Connecticut, Lester looked for work as a machinist; but finding none, went to work in the construction industry doing everything from framing to roofing to pipe-fitting as a sub-contractor. It was okay work, he said, but not steady.

But even when contracting work is available, the pay was not what a skilled machinist makes, so Lester decided he needed to get back to it. That’s when he realized he had run “into a wall.”
So, while not eager to return to school, “You have to do what you have to do,” the East Hartford resident said. He enrolled at MCC to update his skills in the modern machining environment of CNC (computer numerical control) equipment, lean manufacturing and quality control.

Lester already had a lot of experience as a conventional machinist when he arrived at the college. “I already knew the basic principles of machining,” he said. He proceeded to prove it in an assessment test when he signed up to enroll in the precision manufacturing program. So, unlike many new students, he was able to opt to move immediately into more advanced training.

Freshly graduated from the Manchester Community College precision manufacturing program, he has an updated portfolio of skills to take with him as he enters a new paid internship at a local firm.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

News Item Posted On: October 31, 2012
For Additional Information Contact: Bonnie Willgoos at 860-512-2928