Before he began building satellites, Christopher Umbreit made yogurt.
Umbreit works in the microelectronics field as a Production Technician for CAES in Exeter, where he builds radio and antennae systems for satellites.
He came to CAES three years ago through an apprenticeship offered through Great Bay Community College and the job-training program NH Works. Prior to that, Umbreit, now 44, had been laid off from his long-term career in the dairy industry, which involved running pasteurizing operations for yogurt companies.
A self-described constant learner, he found his new career at Great Bay. Through the apprenticeship program, he was able to combine job-related classroom instruction with on-the-job learning. Great Bay partners with more than 35 employers representing five industries and 16 occupations to train the next generation of skilled workers.
Umbreit enjoyed his experience at Great Bay so much he has since enrolled in the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) certificate program, one of the high-skill technical training programs offered through Great Bay’s Business & Training Center at its Rochester campus. He was initially interested in manual machining, and after consulting with Program Coordinator Kurt Douglas, Umbreit committed to the high-demand field of CNC to add to his skillset and improve and widen his career path.
Participants train for jobs as computer-controlled milling machine operators for metal and plastic. He began taking classes in January 2021 and has one class to go. He’s learned hard skills – the mechanics of the machinery, including its operation and set up – as well as soft skills, which involve the expertise and experience of the Great Bay professors.
“I would definitely recommend the program. Just learning the basic skills is always a plus, but with the instruction I have received I have gained more guidance and a much wider window into how the industry works. Every one of the instructors has at least 20 or more years in the industry and been through multiple changes in those years,” he said.
Umbreit lives in Exeter and has continued to work at CAES while taking classes as Great Bay. He praised the college for adapting coursework for the pandemic. It allowed him to balance school with work and family. “With the whole Covid outbreak, there was a lot more opportunity to do online learning. As someone who was working while trying to go back to school and helping to raise a family, the option to do as much learning online is what gave me the flexibility that I needed to do program as I did.”