Classes start for first students in ACTC's Braidy Industries program

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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Back to school is the first step for more than 100 people to go back to work.

This is the first week of classes for the men and women looking for a job at Braidy Industries, the billion-dollar development in Greenup and Boyd counties.

The Advanced Integrated Technology program at Ashland Community and Technical College was designed specifically for Braidy.

Program Coordinator Michael Tackett says it covers a broad range of technical skills.

"The students are coming in, they're going to learn about hydraulics, nuematics, electrical, motor controls, programmable logic controllers, robotics," Tackett said. "In two years they're going to get filled with a wealth of knowledge."

The wide spectrum of skills will allow new employees to fill a variety of roles in operations, maintenance or even administration, according to Tackett.

At the end of the two-year program, students with a 3.0 GPA, who have been drug-free and completed an internship program, will start in the plant with a $65,000 salary plus benefits, according to CEO Craig Bouchard.

Students were visited by Braidy employees on Wednesday.

"Not only can I feel the excitement, I am part of it," Tackett said. "I've been walking on cloud nine the past few days. To feel the energy from the students, the hope that Braidy brings and you can see the students here are committed they are ready to come to work. They're like a sponge. They're thriving for information. They're thriving to get a good job so it's just amazing to see what Braidy is bringing to the community."

The opportunity is also bringing hope to new students.

"I worked at AK Steel for 11 years," father of two Christopher Jackson said. "I worked until December 2017, got laid off, and that just so happened to be about the time this program got approved."

"It's been a long time since this place has had an opportunity like this, and to bring this kind of impact into the community is really awesome," Jackson said. "It gives you something to look forward to. It just makes you realize that all hope is not lost. There is a future if you decide to stay here."

Hollyann Miller, another new student, says she now feels that she will be able to stay in the area to raise a family.