When he was starting high school, James Iaccarino knew one thing for sure: He loved to work with his hands. With the help of his parents, he decided to enroll in Middlesex County Vocational-Technical School and explore his many career options in the trades while in high school. It didn’t take long before he found the right match. “One of my buddies suggested I try the machine tool technology shop,” recalls James, who lives in Old Bridge. “I went in there the first week and loved it. I was making anything and everything out of metal.”
James began developing his skills as a machinist or specialist in machine tool technology. Working from blueprints and their own designs, these technicians produce precision parts for machines from a wide variety of materials. “If you need to make a housing for a bearing or something that has multiple holes and certain shapes, you don’t just put it into a machine and form it,” says James, who graduated from Middlesex Vo-Tech this past June. “You need to do the math and figure out the formulas. I work mainly with a CNC computer, which is a “Computer Numerically Controlled,” and draw a program on a software called Mastercam,” which helps in the design of the machine parts.
During his senior year of high school, James found a job with Monroe Machine and Design in Jamesburg, where he works now making couplings—devices used to connect two shafts together for the purpose of transmitting power—for companies like New Brunswick Scientific, a manufacturer of laboratory equipment. “My boss at Monroe Machine says he is so happy that I found him,” notes James. “He needs employees who know what they are doing, drawing programs and running the machines. I work on the computer and I work manually.”
Monroe Machine and Design manufactures custom machinery and precision parts for companies in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food processing, packaging, government and transportation. In addition to machinists, it employs designers and engineers.
James plans to take his career as a machinist as far as possible. He is going to take night-school classes to learn how to do 3-D drawings and cut out 3-D parts, which will help improve his high-tech skills and produce more quickly. “Most kids think college is the only opportunity. That is completely not true,” he says. “I’m making $12.50 an hour just out of high school. When I get more work experience, I could be making $35 to $40 an hour when I’m 20 years old. If you learn a trade, you’re untouchable.”