New York Times


New York Times Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Downtown Community Television Center



We identified a region where government and business are working together to train an advanced manufacturing workforce. With the help of local vocational and technical programs, we contacted and auditioned 25 students.


Matt Kelly, 19, Weaver Academy and Southeast High School ; Mark McSweeney, 34, Forsyth Technical Community College; Kent McDaniel, 39, Guilford Technical Community College; Linda Merritt, 56, Guilford Technical Community College.


Production costs were covered through a grant awarded to DCTV in collaboration with Purple States by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Editorial Control

The producers selected the students and determined the content of the videos. They consulted with New York Times reporter Motoko Rich to identify key themes.


  • Produced by Cynthia Farrar and John Kennedy
  • Written and directed by Phil Frank
  • Video editing by Amy Overbeck
  • Videography by Christopher Brown
  • Audio recording by Michael McQueen

Episode 3: Bumpy take-off for aviation trainees

Kent quit community college the first time around for financial reasons, and has had one dead end job after another. Now in his 30’s, with a family, he’s receiving a certificate in a community college program funded by the state to create a pool of workers for the aviation cluster. He hopes his skills will be transferable to other local employers.

Linda was laid off after 28 years in the tobacco industry, and took the leap of enrolling in the state funded Airframe and Powerplant program. She has just earned her first post-secondary credential: a certificate that she hopes will make her competitive for a job with HondaJet.

Featured on the NYT Economix blog!
Read Motoko Rich's story at

Episode 1: Hands-On Learning

Matt, 19, is smart but struggled through high school. Vocational courses awakened a passion for machining and the motivation to make sense of math. Now he’s college bound. Read Motoko Rich's story at

Episode 2: Off the workshop floor

Mark, 34, is a welder. He hates being dirty and wants a desk job, a raise, and career prospects. His ticket is community college, but that severely strains family and finances. Featured on the NYT Economix blog!