FRCC to Offer Short-Term Training Course in Precision Machining in Commerce City
Responding to the needs of Colorado manufacturers who want to hire qualified machinists, Front Range Community College is starting a short-term non-credit training class in March, with the majority of class time at Adams City High School in Commerce City.
The Corporate Solutions Division of FRCC has met with more than 30 manufacturers in Northern Colorado to assess their hiring needs. The companies employ as few as three machinists to as many as 175. More than 90 percent of the manufacturers said they wanted to hire an average of five machinists in the next year. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the median salary for machinists in 2011 was $19.62 per hour, or $40,800 per year. Entry-level salary was $13.42 per hour, or $27,908 per year.
Introduction to Machining.
FRCC developed curriculum in concert with a steering committee of manufacturers. The first class, Introduction to Machining, is an 81-hour class that covers such areas as safety, work ethic, introduction to machine tools, hand measurement, bench tools, shop math, blueprint reading, introduction to cutting tools, and manual mill and lathe.
Introduction to Machining will be split about 50-50 between classroom instruction and hands-on work in the state-of-the-art machining lab at Adams City High School.
The classes start on March 25 and then move to Adams City High on April 22. Classes end June 3. Classes are from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
For registration information, visit www.frontrange.edu/machining.
Other classes in the sequence are Intermediate Machining, Advanced Machining, and Quality Control for the Machine Shop. These more advanced classes would be appropriate for the person who completed the introductory course or for someone already in the industry who needs higher-level skills.
“They’ve got a great curriculum right on track for what this market needs,” said Pete Neidecker, executive vice president of Mountainside Medical in Boulder. The company is a contract manufacturer of complex, tight-tolerance medical products.
Two sections of Introduction to Machining are being taught already, such is the interest in careers in machining. Those classes are housed at the Career Development Center in Longmont, part of the St. Vrain Valley School District.
Machining Experts Developed Classes.
“We listened to industry,” said George Newman, FRCC program development coordinator for machining. “The content of the classes was developed by subject matter experts from the industry. It’s a combination of the ‘hard’ technical skills and the ‘soft’ skills needed for the work environment.”
“The average senior machinist is 55 to 60 years old,” Newman says. “We have at most a 10-year window to find replacements. If we don’t make a concerted effort to recruit new machinists, we will see the demise of the industry.”
The Challenge: Finding Qualified Applicants for Machinist Jobs.
“I tell the machine tool salesmen that I’d love to buy a new machine from them, but only if they can bring me the résumés of three qualified machinists,” says Bob Bergstrom, president of St. Vrain Manufacturing in Longmont. St. Vrain Manufacturing is a precision machine shop serving high tech, aerospace, telecom, and other industries.
Options and opportunities for students and community residents.
“This partnership creates some options for students at Adams City High School,” said Pat Sánchez, superintendent of Adams District 14. “It shows students and parents that this is how we apply learning in the real world.
“We’re also delivering on a promise to taxpayers that we would bring career/technical programs on site at Adams City High School,” Sánchez said. “We’re creating opportunities for students and community residents alike.”
Sánchez knows firsthand about career/technical education. His work as an automotive and diesel technician supported his pursuit of college degrees. He’s a former industrial arts teacher. “I really believe we need to prepare students for college and for career/technical fields.”
Machining Brings Jobs Back to U.S.
Machining is one industry that is “reshoring” or “onshoring” rather than “offshoring.”
“In the past few years there has been a concerted effort to bring core manufacturing back to the United States, as long as the quality and price are competitive globally,” says Neidecker. “That’s very achievable.”
Machining today is not like your father’s or grandfather’s machine shop, Newman says.
“It’s a very exciting profession,” he says. “Machined parts are needed in the aerospace, defense, and medical instrument industries. There’s a machine shop in Northern Colorado that has some of its parts on Mars. This industry uses computers, and the machining is done in well-lit, clean, quiet, air-conditioned work spaces.”
About Front Range Community College
FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System, the state’s largest system of higher education. CCCS serves more than 162,000 students annually. The system oversees career and academic programs in the 13 state community colleges and career and technical programs in more than 160 school districts and six other post-secondary institutions.