Steve Thompson, adjunct computer numerical control machining instructor at MCC watches as a manual milling machine is delivered to McHenry County College's new manufacturing lab. Classes in advanced CNC are underway and beginning machining classes will take place this summer.
McHenry County College is continuing its commitment to provide more high-skilled workers for local manufacturers by offering beginning machining classes at the college this summer with the arrival of six new manual mill and lathe machines. The arrival of these machines completes the manufacturing lab at the College.
The new manufacturing lab allows MCC to begin offering both Introduction to Machining and Advanced CNC machining classes on campus during the day or night for underemployed or displaced workers. The college also plans to enroll high school students through the college's Dual Credit program. MCC has partnered with Woodstock School District 200 for more than three years to offer those machining classes at both Woodstock high schools.
The manufacturing lab replaces the college’s Black Box Theatre, which was relocated this semester via a new addition to Building E. Plus, a robotics classroom expanded into two renovated classrooms in Building D last fall.
"MCC has really made a commitment to the manufacturing sector and it's a huge part of our county," said Jim Falco, executive dean of Education, Career and Technical Education. "We listened to what manufacturers said. They are faced with a triple threat of an aging workforce, no one in the pipeline to immediately replace them and a lack of potential workers with the proper advanced manufacturing skills, including technical math and blueprint reading."
"Our students will learn foundational skills of machining and they learn how to operate machinery safely and competently. We also prepare them to sit for the industry-recognized credentials through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS)," Falco said.
The college's manufacturing lab was made possible by the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) grant of $500,000 from the Department of Labor last year. With that funding, MCC added two advanced computer numerical control machines and three robotics machines in January. In the future, the College plans to offer Industrial Maintenance classes in Spring 2015.
"This is exciting for the college and the grant because we're bringing manufacturing back to MCC and we're able to fulfill our promise to the manufacturers in the area," said Stephen O'Connor, coordinator of TAA CCCT grant program. "The demand for entry level manufacturing jobs is so high. We can train people for available positions in manufacturing, so jobs can stay here in McHenry County. We’re able to offer robotics as well as CNC machining in-house."
For CNC adjunct instructor Steve Thompson, the new manufacturing lab provides more convenience for the students.
"Our program is growing. We are finally able to offer a CNC certificate program and MCC's two-year manufacturing design program in-house and students don’t have to drive to Woodstock," said Thompson, who also is Career and Technical Education department chair at Woodstock High School.
Thompson said that past graduates have earned 80 percent proficiency on the national certification exam, called NIMS. Many graduates get internships and/or get hired at local manufacturers, including Scot Forge.
Currently, Scot Forge has one adult intern from MCC and four high school interns who are taking CNC classes through MCC's Dual Credit program.
"It’s nice to see machines going in and operating soon to provide training," said Zach Ford, intern coordinator for Scot Forge. "It’s a good start to better the future of manufacturing in McHenry County."
Ford said he is looking to set up an internship program with MCC for adult learners in machining.
Erich Hoffmann, Human Resource manager at TC Industries, Inc. said the new CNC machines and the new manual milling machines at MCC will help students learn basic fundamentals as well as develop detailed machining skills.
"Learning machining fundamentals on manual equipment should help develop a well-rounded CNC operator, which is a key need today for many local companies," Hoffman said. "The CNC program at MCC is a great local resource for us; both for developing our current employees and for recruiting future employees."