High school students from Newport News and Hampton had hands-on experiences at NNS during spring break.

Students Explore Shipbuilding Careers During Spring Break

Published April 12, 2022

High school students from Newport News and Hampton spent part of their spring break last week at Newport News Shipbuilding learning about career opportunities at the shipyard and The Apprentice School.

The event was part of a pilot program to provide experiences for high school students to help bolster the trades workforce pipeline at NNS. “This great opportunity gave our students exposure, including hands-on experiences, to the trades offered within the shipyard,” said Lenise Cowling, program administrator for the Governor’s STEM and University Magnet Program at Heritage High School in Newport News.

Students visited the Trades Training Facility for hands-on experiences. The program also included hands-on demos and simulations in the fields of design, laser scanning, painting, welding, electrical, CNC machining, sheet metal, inspection, pipefitting and hydraulics in The Apprentice School gym.

Jessica Walker, an Apprentice School craft instructor, was among the shipbuilders leading demos with students. She said events like these are vital because they give students the opportunity to learn about, see and experience the different trades.

Many students were surprised to find out how much technology is involved in shipbuilding. “Their mindset prior to coming in here is that there isn’t much technology,” Walker said. “When they come in here and see how much technology we actually use to build these ships, they’re definitely wowed.”

Christian Shelton, a junior at Hampton High School, was one of the students participating in the event. He is looking forward to working in a trade after high school.

“If I were to come here and learn a trade, I could find exactly what I want to do and have a better opportunity to make a career for myself instead of going to college, getting into debt and possibly not even being able to work in that field,” he said. “Today was great. I got to go around and see all the different stations to give me a grasp of what I can do and what I’d like to do.”

Christina Kerby, academy coach at Hampton High School – which includes the Maritime Academy – said she was happy to see students spending their spring break learning about opportunities for future employment. “It was exciting to see students learning what it looks and feels like to work in the shipbuilding industry,” she said.