November 26, 2019 – ASTON, Pa. – On October 16, 2019, Nick Hackett, President of New Way® Air Bearings, participated in a panel discussion at the B. PHL Innovation Fest explaining New Way’s initiatives in the autism-at-work movement. The New Normal: Neurodiversity and the Frontier of Inclusion session brought a standing-room-only crowd and featured Hackett along with five other panelists from Philadelphia area businesses and universities with national influence on the autism-at-work initiatives. The talk was moderated by Tom Edwards, chair of the Department of Engineering, Technology, and Management at the College of Engineering at Temple University and advocate for effective leadership for the neurodiverse.
The panelists brought a range of perspectives, including some who have worked with larger companies such as SAP and Microsoft implementing autism-at-work programs. Hackett was asked to speak after Edwards visited New Way to learn about their program offering employment to high-functioning autistic high school students. By sharing New Way’s initiatives, Hackett offered a perspective on how even a small company can make a difference.
“Students with autism are very talented in some areas that are unique. They have the propensity to be very focused on a task, to not be distracted, and to be very diligent in detail. Particularly in the manufacturing environment, this can really be of value,” remarked Hackett.
New Way works with the Delaware County Intermediate Unit who identifies high-functioning junior and senior high school students. To date, New Way has employed two students through their program. They both began in the packing & sorting department, while Hackett and team evaluate their skills just like they do every other employee. They are now looking to develop one of the students for performing a final inspection of products.
The opportunity to speak on the panel made Hackett aware of just how unique New Way’s program focused on high-school educated students truly was. While established programs for college-educated autistic students exist, there is a gap to address the needs of high school-educated autistic students with viable skills to be used by an employer.
“There is a big community out there of students who go through the education system and then are stuck with no opportunities,” says Hackett. With the repetitive, fine-detail oriented activities common to the manufacturing industry, he “sees a lot of opportunities across the manufacturing industry for employing autistic students.”
Hackett was pleased with the response from the panel and plans to spread awareness to his colleagues in the manufacturing industry.
Hackett’s team knows the impact of such programs has far-reaching implications for both the companies and the student. “These students are coming in to be an asset to New Way. We’re doing our part here to change lives,” Shawn Garrison, New Way Vice President of Finance and Operations.
New Way® Air Bearings, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is the world’s leading independent designer and manufacturer of modular air bearing products and the recognized provider of porous media air bearing solutions, sold in over 30 countries worldwide. New Way has been recognized for multiple years on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing, private companies in America, and as a Deloitte Fast 50 Technology company for the Philadelphia, PA, USA Region and is a past recipient of The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Technological Excellence of the Year Award. New Way is located in Aston, PA. Learn more at www.newwayairbearings.com
Richard Hesse, Technical Sales Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-364-3465
New Way Air Bearings
50 McDonald Blvd.
Aston, PA 19014