Vermont Tech-GW Plastics Partnership Celebrates First Graduates

26 Jan 2017

GW Plastics, one of Vermont’s largest advanced manufacturers, announces the graduation of its first manufacturing technology leadership class in partnership with Vermont Tech. GW selected incumbent employees in 2012 to begin Vermont Tech’s college program, designed for employees working full time.

[Read the article originally published by the Randolph Herald.]

After spending four years in engineering technology education provided by Vermont Tech, GW Plastics employees presented their senior projects and received graduation certificates at the Randolph Center campus in December.

During their presentations, employees highlighted the workplace problem they investigated, outlined the data they collected to analyze the problem and what solution they tested or have proposed, along with the financial impact of their solution.

Over the six projects presented, GW Plastics could realize over $500,000 in annual savings due to the efficiencies gained by the students’ analysis and problem solving.

Graduates of the Manufacturing Technology Leadership program earned college credits that can be applied toward an associate degree in applied science in engineering technology at Vermont Tech. In addition to receiving college credit courses fully funded by GW, the company awarded each graduate a 10% increase in their base compensation to recognize their commitment to improve their workplace skills.

“A vital part of the program for GW is the leadership skills each of our associates gained in the process,” said Brenan Riehl, president and CEO of GW Plastics.

“The partnership with Vermont Tech helps our company become more competitive. Investing in our associates increases their skills, brings new ideas and increases their productivity. We are very proud of our graduates,” added Riehl.

Leadership graduates were honored at a ceremony December 21 by Riehl and a team from GW Plastics including Cathy Tempesta, Mark Hammond, Jack Courtemanche, Tim Holmes, and John Silvia, as well as VTC professor Jeff Higgins and VTC President Patricia Moulton.

“This program has helped some of the employees truly see their potential,” said Higgins. “They’ve taken on a challenge from their jobs and in some cases created proprietary knowledge for their employer. They really understand how they provide value to the organization through their education.”


The 2016 GW Plastics graduates include: Michael Converse of Bethel, Andrew Green of Granville, Garrett Sargent of Randolph, Joseph Sargent of East Thetford, Maurice Simoneau of Graniteville, and Erik Valentine of West Lebanon.

The GW Plastics students graduated with employees from two other Vermont employers: North Hartland Tool Corporation and New England Precision.

A second class of Manufacturing Technology Leadership students began their program in 2015 and expects to graduate in 2019.