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Precision Machining’s Martin Crafts Future at Tool Specialties

Precision Machining’s Martin Crafts Future at Tool Specialties

Matt Martin, a senior in our Precision Machining program, isn’t waiting until graduation to kick-start his career. He began preparing at age 15 when he landed a summer job with our industry partner Tool Specialties of St. Louis, and he continues working for them today.

Martin joined North Tech as a sophomore in our Career Explorations course. Like other teenagers, he was entirely uncertain about which careers would interest him and entered the program seeking answers.  During a project in Ted Stanfield’s Advanced Manufacturing course, Martin discovered he had both a passion and talent for machining. Because of his acute interest, Martin spent the bulk of his second semester shadowing the Precision Machining program with instructor Brett Smith.

Martin’s chess set project, junior year

Two months of work in the class revealed that Martin was a hard worker and had made an outstanding first impression. “I saw that he had great potential,” said Smith, who connected Martin with Tool Specialties to secure him the summer job. Martin worked custodial and maintenance for his first summer and averaged 32 hours a week. This past summer, he worked 50 hours a week and handled both set-up and running of CNC machines for production.

Martin, who has an accumulated 3.7 GPA and is enrolled in honors and college prep courses at Tech, also works 12 or more hours a week at Tool Specialties during the school year. The company produces a wide variety of parts and equipment for companies like Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, and Nike. Dan Griffith, plant manager at Tool Specialties, has also been impressed with Martin’s work. “He’s done great with everything we’ve handed him,” said Griffith, who hopes to hire Martin on full-time after his graduation. Griffith said that one of the things about Martin that stands out is his ability to ask the right questions as he is learning. “He wants to dig deep to figure things out,” he said, noting that this curiosity and willingness to learn will take Martin much further in his career. Griffith believes that custom work helps build better machinists who are more highly skilled and can demand higher wages. He strongly advises young people entering the career of tool and die making take the time to “train on the details” as it better prepares them for pathways in mechanical engineering and advanced manufacturing.

After graduation, Martin plans to attend Southwestern Illinois College to earn his Associate’s degree in Precision Machining while continuing to work at Tool Specialties. Martin will have fellow alumni to mentor him there in Bill Wood, another North Tech grad who also started his career with the company while in high school.

Providing our students with real world opportunities to work in fields that interest them while still in high school is one of the many benefits of career and technical education. North Tech is fortunate to have a wealth of industry partners ready to mentor our students and enhance their educational experience with us. For more information about North Tech’s Precision Machining program, visit


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