West Palm Beach school and Jupiter business combine job-training programs for students with autism

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla - Ethan Rudy is in his first day at a new school-job training program for students on the autism spectrum. The job for the 17-year-old is to inspect parts for Power Systems Manufacturing, a Jupiter company that makes equipment for gas turbines.

"It's about 5.7675," he says while measuring one of the dimensions.

The other half of the training program takes place in a classroom at the Renaissance Learning Academy in West Palm Beach, where the students train on the same equipment and with the same blueprints as they use at Power Systems Manufacturing.

"A lot of skills are repetitive and the same they do over and over again," said Toby Honsberger, the director of the Renaissance Learning Academy.  "Our students really thrive with that type of skill a, b, and c better than anybody over and over again."

Following their classroom training some of the students are able to  work at the company, designing the gauges that other students will use to check parts.

They've made a good first impression with their work.

"Their progress has certainly been surprising to me as far as how quickly they picked up the software," said Jeff Taylor, the director of product design at Power Systems Manufacturing.

With their emphasis on details, the students are suited for this type of work.

"Their ability to focus and get precise measurements is exceptional. They've done such a great job so far," said Tom Salvador, the senior manager of production at Power Systems Manufacturing.

For the students, it can be a look at their future.

"It's something that is very interesting and has the potential for a career in the future, so in a way it is school work but fun school work," said student James Fleishman

While the school and company are looking to see if the program can be expanded,  for now, it's getting a thumbs up from the students.

"So what do you think Ethan," asked Salvador.

"Pretty awesome," replied Rudy



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