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Right In Front Of Me

A new podcast brought to you by STRAC Institute

Hosted by Tim Sawyer

Right In Front
Of Me

A new podcast brought to you
by STRAC Institute

Hosted by Tim Sawyer

Right In Front Of Me is a podcast that highlights the explosion of high demand career opportunities available to vets of all ages, high school graduates, and career changers looking for long term opportunities in the exciting world of electronics. Right In Front Of Me connects you with the hot topics, employers, educators, military personnel, and everyday people making a difference in the world of vocational training. Right In Front Of Me will put you on the path to a rewarding career you can be proud of without the time, expense, and unpredictability of high-cost education. Brought to you by the STRAC Institute, providing students of all backgrounds with a clear path to a successful career in the high demand industry of electronics.

 

Season 2


This episode’s guest is David Hernandez. Dave is currently the Vice President, Education at IPC. IPC is the leading association connecting the electronics industries.


This episode’s guests are Dan Lepore and Katherine Person!

Dan graduated from Dean College with an associate’s in Criminal Justice, and then graduated from Suffolk University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and Law.

He worked in social services for over 15 years (working with families, truancy court, reintegration programs, behavior health and mental health.) Dan has worked for Veterans Inc for 4 years as Grant Lead for the HVRP (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program) covering RI and SE MA helping veterans who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, getting back into the work force.

A native of Templeton, MA, Katherine Person first discovered her passion for helping others while part of a class focused on volunteering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Throughout Katherine’s career, she has spent her time helping veterans and giving back to her community through her work. Currently, Katherine is the Director of Client Services, ensuring veteran clients and their families receive critical services, such as employment, benefits, supportive services, housing stabilization, and referrals.


This episode’s guest is Kelving Ortiz! Kelving is a recent STRAC graduate. Hear how STRAC prepared Kelving for employment as a lab technician at the Sonos campus in Santa Barbara, CA.


This episode’s guest is Kristin Young! She’s back! Kristin is currently the Director of Clinical Services for Herren Project and has a private practice on Cape Cod. Completing her Master’s in Social Work from Boston University in 2009, she has worked in the field of mental health and addictive disorders for 20 years. Kristin’s past experience includes working with individuals with chronic and severe mental health issues and co-occurring disorders. She also has experience working with adolescents and their families. Kristin specializes in addiction and recovery, trauma, and chronic mental health issues. We are excited to have her as our guest again!


This episode’s guest is Joel Leonard! Joel is a recognized leader in building pipelines of skilled technicians and helping grow respect and appreciation of the maintenance profession. With over 30 years of professional experience, Joel has helped all types of people, from ex-offenders looking for jobs to C-Suite executives looking for talent, as well as top government and educational leaders looking to grow talent pools to retain and attract employers.

For over 15 years Joel has adopted the skills and maintenance crises as his life’s mission. He has spoken at international conferences, spoken before US Congress, on CNBC, and NPR. He created an online TV show, wrote hundreds of columns about solutions to the skills gap, and worked in the trenches of building pipelines of skilled technicians in the aviation, machining, and maintenance sectors. In 2014 Joel helped set up a Makers Space in Greensboro where 16 companies were formed, 9 patents were filed, and over 50 job seekers got employment.

Joel has counseled college presidents, executives, and governmental leaders on how to build a stronger workforce and prepare for future talent needs. Joel is also the creator of the famous Maintenance Crisis song.


This episode’s guest is Shayna D’Albora, the Director of Admissions at STRAC Institute. Prior to joining the team at STRAC, she worked for another national vocational training program. She herself attended a training program rather than opt for a 4-year education and she is passionate about helping people find a career they love!


This episode’s guest is Chris Peters! Chris is the Executive Director of the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics, responsible for establishing and growing this organization that helps ensure the U.S. Government has access to resilient and trusted electronics supply chains. Chris Oversees the $42 million Defense Electronics Consortium agreement with the DoD. Chris has an extensive background in driving the innovation and adoption of solutions throughout manufacturing supply chains. He works with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 manufacturers and the Department of Defense. Focus areas include: Through work and participation in the National Defense Industrial Association and the Joint Defense ManTech Panel, Chris has become well-known in the defense manufacturing community. He is a frequent speaker on defense manufacturing supply chains and has written several related papers. Prior to the US Partnership, Chris Co-founded MetalSite, the world’s first industry-backed manufacturing marketplace, funded by five of the country’s largest metals producers. The company exceeded all adoption and revenue projections in the first six months and earned a $183 million return on a $20 million investment in the first year. Chris went on to create similar manufacturing consortia in 20 industries throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, fundamentally changing the way that supply chain partners interact. Chris also served in the US Coast Guard. Thank you, Chris!


This episode’s guest is Stephen Pucek! After graduating high school, being pushed towards college was the common narrative. Stephen knew this wasn’t the route for him after graduating high school with a 1.8 GPA. Working some entry level jobs, gaining business experience, and saving a nest egg for community college gave Stephen time to learn and mature. In 2016 Stephen began a support role in a tech company where he got his first taste of a traditional business, and so began the extremely hard push to become part of the sales team. Just before his 21st birthday Stephen became a regional sales manager with an industry leading company for medical software. This transition is really what opened his eyes to the possibilities of the world and wanting to help the youth. In his case, he wanted his peers to see that we all have alternatives to success. Ever since then, Stephen has been on a pursuit of personal success and is always thinking about, “What is the best way to communicate to the next generations, so they know the amazing opportunities that are around every corner?” Thank you, Stephen!


This episode’s guest is Charles Platt! Charles is the author of the Amazon Best Selling Make: series, including Make: Electronics, Make: More Electronics, Easy Electronics, Encyclopedia of Electronic Components (in three volumes), and Make: Tools with two more books forthcoming. Make: Electronics has sold 250,000 printed copies in the US and has six foreign editions. It is an Amazon bestseller in its category. Charles has created more than 1,000 photographs and illustrations for these books. He has written more than 50 features for Make: Magazine, mostly on electronics in which its features were illustrated with his own diagrams and photographs. Charles is also an inventor of a novel rapid-cooling device with medical applications. He designed and built four iterations including control electronics based around microcontrollers on hand-wired boards. He co-wrote a successful patent application. Using a chilled breathable liquid, this device has achieved a faster cooling rate than any other known equipment to lower body temperature noninvasively. Thank you, Charles!


This episode’s guest is Travis Mydlo! Travis is a business development manager at a software company called PatientNow, a business that specializes in the elective medical industry. Travis was an officer in his DECA club in high school and elected to go into an apprenticeship program with Disney in lieu of college. After a year of the electrical apprenticeship, he shifted gears into a sales position at a startup business called Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. While there he was given an opportunity travel to over 100+ trade shows, learn the sales process, and build lasting relationships. He has a beautiful wife, 2-year-old son and another baby boy on the way. Thank you Travis!


This episode’s guest is Alex MacLeod! Alex earned his M.Ed. from Keene State College (NH) and has been serving K-12 public school students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over twenty-five years as a School Counselor and Administrator. He admits that counseling students is more of a “calling” than a career. Of particular interest in his profession is analyzing data relating to student performance, researching the impacts of technology on learning and the developing brain, as well as working with his team to design more effective counseling practices to support student transition, academic performance, and career exploration. We are excited to have him back for a second episode! Thank you, Alex!


This episode’s guest is Michael Videira! Michael joined STRAC Institute in 2017 as the Chief Financial Officer and today serves as the President. He drives the vision for the company to create energy, engage talent, and deliver results. Before joining STRAC Institute, Michael was a Manager at Ernst & Young working with both large publicly traded companies and small, closely held businesses in the assurance practice. With over 8 years in public accounting and transaction advisory services, Michael has a broad perspective on the challenges companies face and solutions to overcome them. Michael received his Accounting degree with Honors from the University of Rhode Island, magna cum laude. In the summer of 2008, he studied at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, China. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Rhode Island Society of CPAs. Outside of the office, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and four kids biking, fishing, and golfing. Thank you Mike!

 

Season 1


This episode’s guest is Jennifer Burger! Jenn started teaching in 1982. She has served in Portland, Newberg, and Hillsboro school districts in the state of Oregon. She is licensed in special education, multiple subjects K-9, Reading specialist, ELA endorsement and Math endorsement. Jennifer has also taught a variety of ages and subjects from K-12 and taught college test prep (SAT and ACT) from 2004-2016. She was an AVID (advancement via individual determination) teacher from 2015-2019. AVID is a class that targets first generation (to go to college) students, students of color and students from low SES homes. While AVID definitely encourages four-year college, Jenn strongly believes that all post-secondary avenues be explored. This includes trade school, community college, the military and certification programs. She is currently Department Coordinator and Life Skills teacher at Glencoe High School and coaches volleyball and softball. Jenn loves her husband and family and has raised six children who are now in their 20’s and 30’s. Thank you Jenn!


This episode’s guest is Jason Payne! Jay is a new hire for the STRAC Institute at the Exeter, RI campus. Born and raised in Bellville, Ohio. Jay enlisted in the Navy in 1993 and retired in 2017 for a run of 24 years of service, plus service as a US Navy Chief Petty Officer. He was deployed several times in his career to areas around the Middle East and to the Mediterranean. He has led, mentored, and trained numerous Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airman, and Coastguard personnel as well as directed several operations for critical Combat Systems Warfare areas and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection requirements to ensure mission capability and readiness, along with numerous awards and citations. Jay sees himself as a huge motivator and always seeks to get the job done in every task ever faced. Thank you Jay!


This episode’s guest is Neal Tomblyn! Neal has over 40 years of extensive leadership transforming and creating growth for Aerospace and Defense businesses both domestically and internationally with start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Mr. Tomblyn was the Director of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin for their Rotary and Mission Systems Division focusing on providing sustainment, logistics, and training solutions for the global military market. Mr. Tomblyn was responsible for strategic direction, business development, capture, proposal and IRAD expanding global business opportunities as well as identifying next generation technologies, applications, and solutions. After taking early retirement from Lockheed Martin Corporation in December of 2019, Mr. Tomblyn formed Ingenius Partners, LLC (Ingenius) where his focus is on creating growth environments and opportunities for early-stage disruptive technology and solution companies supporting digital transformation in the Defense and Aerospace market. In previous roles at Lockheed Martin, Mr. Tomblyn was the Director of Strategy, Business Development and Capture Leadership for Lockheed Martin’s Aviation Solutions businesses, focused on global aviation solutions for ANSPs, airports and airlines.


This episode’s guest is David Vega!
“As a Bronx, New York native, raised in and around abject poverty, I have never let my environment and station in life define me or limit my pursuits in life. Creative thinking, resourcefulness and my keen ability to problem solve has led me to various careers and entrepreneurial avenues, despite being dyslexic and overcoming many life obstacles and socio-economic stigmas. My careers have spanned the gamut from working in the: music and film industry, my stint in the Air Force (Honorable Discharge), building and rehabbing/renovating homes (as an entrepreneur), various corporate middle management positions and finally the medical industry. Currently, I am halfway through training for a new career path in electronics at STRAC Institute. I hope to further my new career path with the transferable skills I’ve amassed. My prior academic vitae began at the High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts (FAME), Bronx Community College (Valedictorian), Vassar College (a seven-sister school to the ivy leagues) and lastly Erwin Tech (Neurodiagnostics). I consider myself a “Renaissance-Gypsy” and life learner who was lucky enough to find my soulmate of 22 years. I say lucky, because restless souls are difficult to tame.” -David Vega


This episode’s guest is Adam DeGraide! Adam DeGraide is an entrepreneur, speaker, and digital marketing expert, to say the least. Adam is a three-time Inc 500 Founder who has created more than three-hundred million in equity valuations. He is a self-starter, high school graduate who values a good attitude, skills, and ability. He has employed thousands over his career as a CEO. Thank you, Adam!


In this episode we discover… There are extremely limited resources for vocational education grants and scholarships, Ivan and Kelving’s experience at STRAC Institute, and why these students chose STRAC versus other education options. Thank you Ivan and Kelving!


In this episode you will get to meet Markell and Wesley. These are two young men in the middle of their technical training post-high school. We will partake in a great in-depth discussion about their journey to STRAC, thoughts on why they chose the field of electronics, the high cost of college tuition, and student debt. We also discuss their career plans after STRAC. This is a great discussion for high school students, educators, career changers, and technical employers. Thank you Wesley and Markell!


This episode’s guest is David England! David is currently the NCR Corporation’s Southeast District Field Operations Sr Manager, an area encompassing 8 states and over 930 employees. NCR, a global company with over 36,000 employees worldwide, is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Over 13 years David has built a career at NCR starting from an entry level position as a Field Engineer 1 through multiple roles, up to his current position. David is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and US Navy. 


Joe Amaral is an entrepreneur, expert digital marketer, and former military. His last two businesses were honored to have made the INC 500 of fastest growing private businesses in America. Now on his third start up business, he has worked with thousands of small businesses across the US and beyond. Serving as COO in the current and last business venture, Joe has had his hand in all elements of each business, finding the right talent, managing the vision of software development, and the driving force in formulating & managing execution of the digital strategies clients will use to grow their business. Joe is the father of 3 teenage boys, an avid gardener, and has a blog on heirloom gardening. 


This episode’s guest is Megan Herne! Megan joined AstroNova, Inc., a global leader in developing and applying data visualization technologies, in 2016 and now serves as the organization’s Human Resources Manager for North America. In this role, Megan is responsible for the development and administration of various human resource plans and procedures and provides guidance to management in a number of areas, including people development, performance management, benefits, compensation, and more. Previously in Megan’s role as Talent Acquisition Manager for Panera Bread/Howley Bread Group, she led the talent acquisition function with staffing responsibility for over 20 cafes. Megan is dedicated to serving others, both in their educational and professional development and personal lives. She previously served for 3 years as the Director of Programs & Professional Development for the Rhode Island Society of Human Resources Management. In this role, Megan was responsible for the planning and development of all educational and social programming for the organization’s members. Megan currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Davies Career & Technical High School and the Board of Directors at Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island. 


This episode’s guest is Charles Myers! Charles is a decorated 20-year veteran teacher of Construction Technologies. His many professional achievements include winning the 2003 Milken Educator Award, National Grid’s Pioneer in Education Award, Woonsocket’s Innovation in Education Award, and being named the 2016 CTE Teacher of the Year.  He has experience and/or licenses in multiple Green Construction disciplines including Building Performance Analysis, Solar Hot Water, LEED, and Energy Star Homes. Prior to his teaching career, Charlie supervised construction of multimillion dollar custom homes in southern Rhode Island. He is a dedicated teacher who loves to collaborate on projects that make a positive impact on the community, the school campus, and the lives of students. Charlie looks forward to the work they are doing at Ponaganset, where he can continue to move forward in excellence.


This episode’s guest is Martin Purin! Martin is a Career Advocate for STRAC Institute. He specializes in building relationships with the students as well as the companies who hire them. He gets enjoyment out of helping them find employment and has made a career based on helping others. Martin served over 22 years in the Marine Corps, where he achieved the highest enlisted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant. During his time in the military, he has experienced combat, led others, and changed lives through engaged servant leadership. Today he continues to help others through career development.
Martin is originally from the Westbank of New Orleans, enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17, and graduated from Post University with a B.S. in Business Administration. He is passionate about helping others, mentorship, and the development of both kids and adults alike. He coaches flag and tackle football, remains active at church, and believes in giving back. He is driven to be his best for his wife and two sons. 


This episode’s guest is Kristin Young! Kristin is currently the Director of Clinical Services for Herren Project and has a private practice on Cape Cod. Completing her Master’s in Social Work from Boston University in 2009, she has worked in the field of mental health and addictive disorders for 20 years. Kristin’s past experience includes working with individuals with chronic and severe mental health issues and co-occurring disorders. She also has experience working with adolescents and their families. Kristin specializes in addiction and recovery, trauma, and chronic mental health issues. We are excited to have her as our guest!


This episode’s guest is Alex MacLeod! Alex earned his M.Ed. from Keene State College (NH) and has been serving K-12 public school students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over twenty-five years as a School Counselor and Administrator. He admits that counseling students is more of a “calling” than a career. Of particular interest in his profession is analyzing data relating to student performance, researching the impacts of technology on learning and the developing brain, as well as working with his team to design more effective counseling practices to support student transition, academic performance, and career exploration. We are excited to have him as our guest!


Welcome to Right In Front Of Me! In this introduction episode our host, Tim Sawyer, explains why we are passionate about our podcast and what our show is all about!

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