Hans Ruoss, a 20-year employee at Laitram LLC in Harahan, is a mechanical engineer who earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of New Orleans and studied at Mississippi State University. He’s an outdoorsman and athlete, serves as scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop in Mandeville and is an articulate, engaging representative of his company and his profession.
He’s also a former Delgado Community College student, with 20 credit hours earned at the City Park Campus. “I loved the environment at Delgado,” Ruoss said. He credits the college with helping him find his way in life.
Ruoss is the general manager of the Laitram Machine Shop, where he supervises Delgado Machine Tool Technology students who work there as machinist interns. One of these students, Michael Ngyuen, recently became the first full-time employee at Laitram to complete the internship program.
In order to become a machinist intern at Laitram, a Delgado student must have completed a full year of study. When selected for the intern program, the student receives help with tuition from the company, which does not hire any student until Delgado studies are finished and the Certificate of Technical Studies is awarded.
The nationwide shortage of skilled machine tools technology workers—some 60,000 are needed—is also felt locally. There are more jobs available in the field than there are people prepared to fill them. “Having trained employees provided for our industry through technical education at Delgado and other schools is extremely valuable to us,” Ruoss said.
Employment at Laitram after completing the internship is quite valuable to the students, as well. “A machinist here can start at $15 to $20 an hour, and can expect to earn up to $30 an hour,” Ruoss said. There are about 70 employees in his shop divided among two shifts. Salaries range from about $45,000 to around $80,000.
Earnings like these are often associated with professional jobs that require a four-year degree. That people who work with their hands can enjoy such monetary rewards may surprise some. But it’s common knowledge to Ruoss, the engineer. “Manufacturing brings high-value, long-term employment to the region,” he said.