Cuyahoga Community College’s Manufacturing Center of Excellence works to fill the skills gap

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence

In June, I met with Alicia Booker, vice president of manufacturing, and Alethea Ganaway, program manager additive manufacturing & Ideation Station, of Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce, Community and Economic Development division at the Metro Campus. Booker says, “We take a manufacturing systems approach and not a product approach. We don’t just focus occupationally on the need to fill a gap then three months later the need arises again due to churn.”

For this team, it’s all about workforce development and creating a skilled workforce. More than 3,500 students are attending the workforce programs, including youth, adults interested in a career transitions, students who already have a degree but are returning to upgrade skills, older adults interested in a second career, employees who need additional training for their current role, and job seekers interested in starting a career.

Booker moved to Ohio two years ago from Pennsylvania to accept the position. Ganaway was moved from Tri-C’s robotics program to additive manufacturing in order to write the grant to fund the program. Now, two years later, the fruits of their labor are paying off in the Manufacturing Center of Excellence (MCoE).

Booker says, “We offer a unique brand of training – short-term through two-year degree plus transfer opportunities. Classes are offered in environments that meet the needs of the students and customers — day, evening, weekend, and bootcamp formats, full- and part-time training, and now we can offer onsite training through the Citizens Bank Mobile Training Unit. Our programs are comprehensive, offering exploration and career exposure to students as young as eight years old through our Nuts & Bolts Academy, middle and high school visits (via the mobile unit), and our college credit plus K-12 initiative.”

This is what the impressively outfitted MCoE contains:Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence scanner

  1. A shop that houses CNC equipment
  2. An integrated systems line with Fanuc robots that launched in June 2017 (Students can become a certified production technician in eight weeks, including program automation, PLCs, and visual inspection for quality control.)
  3. A 3D printing lab that houses a Faro scanner and two printers that can print biomedical-grade devices
  4. A PLC training line with both Allen-Bradley and Siemens systems that launched In August 2017 (Students can earn an international certification for Siemens Mechatronics Systems, mainly used by European companies, since there are more than 400 German companies in northeast Ohio, while Allen-Bradley is more common in The United States. Some companies, such as Ford, use both systems in different portions of the plant. The training line includes a PLC station with hydraulic and pneumatic boards and a robotic arm.)
  5. A rover for virtual-reality training and integrated gaming
  6. A Fab Lab, a maker space for community and international collaboration (it houses a classroom; a Techno CNC router; an embroidery machine; a small mill for engraving, heat presses for T-shirts, hats and mugs; a laser engraver; and a vinyl cutter.)
  7. A mobile unit that can go to businesses, events and schools for teaching and demonstration opportunities in a nine-county area that launched in February 2017 (The trailer fits 10 students and instructors; is WiFi, laptop and software equipped; has its own generator; has plugs for different amperages; and can be deployed with electrical, welding, CNC, mechanics and 3D printing equipment. The lab already has been deployed to the 2017 IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo, a workforce summit, Crestwood Local Schools, and Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.)

According to Ganaway, “The Additive Manufacturing program includes not only 3D printing, but we teach students how to reverse engineer parts, 2D and 3D design, 3D scanning, inspection and other technologies related to additive manufacturing.  Additive manufacturing is not just related to manufacturing; it includes other disciplines, as well, such as medical.  Some of the projects include 3D printing prosthetics for veterans at the VA who are disabled.”

The college offers training by which students can earn college credits and industry certifications. In the welding training, they learn MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Right Skills Now affords students with CNC training in manual and automated machining. They train on Haas CNC mills and lathes, and on Bridgeport manual machines. The 3D/additive manufacturing training is in digital design, and students receive training in multiple 3D printing technologies, including the use of 3D printers, scanners, and other equipment available through the Ideation Station where they can work with a techno router, laser engraver, etc. In Mechatronics, students learn techniques in mechanical, electrical, computerization, and gain an understanding of how these systems work together. Finally, as a certified production technician, students are prepared to begin career opportunities in manufacturing and earn four industry certifications in areas of safety, manufacturing processes and production. This is a hybrid training program that includes training on the integrated systems training equipment to prepare them for occupations in material handling, assembly and production.

To stay connected to industry, the program has several advisory committees made up of industry professionals from the welding, machining, electrical, mechanical, 3D printing and transportation sectors. They also have specific employer-based programs, including First Energy, Swagelok and ArcelorMittal, who have advised the college on customized programs that lead to employment with their companies. Local businesses, such as Cleveland Job Corps, Cleveland Municipal School District, Towards Employment, Boys & Girls Club, Ohio Means Jobs, Ford, General Motors, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, NASA, Arconic, Charter Steel, and others, utilize the program’s services.

The program, says Booker, helps to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce by “working to strengthen the region by supporting the existing efforts of our partners and by addressing the needs we hear from employers for a skilled workforce. We provide a quick response for new skills by developing new programs and training modalities. We also are working with schools and youth-serving organizations to enhance the talent pipeline that industry needs.” She continues by sharing that the most common challenge that she sees manufacturing facing is “the alignment of skills — commonly referred to as the skills gap. The impact of technology on the industry is also a challenge as industry works to keep up with the growth of technology, and we (as a training institution) work to keep up with the projected needs for skilled workers.”

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence mechatronics

Thoughts from Justin: Undecided about your career? Consider becoming a machinist.

machinist

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Justin Mobilian, HGR’s sales & marketing summer intern)

With the retirement of the Baby Boomers approaching, many manufacturing and machinist jobs will need to be filled. How many? 2.7 million. The problem? Many millennials lack the skills and experience (myself included).

Why be a machinist?

For starters, you DO NOT need a college degree. I have several friends who opted out of attending college, have a steady job and are doing financially well (if you guessed that they’re a welder, you are correct). Second, the average salary of a machinist in the United States is $41,000 to $46,000 (depending on the state in which you live).

No college debt. Almost guaranteed a job immediately. AND starting pay somewhere in the $40,000s. Still interested? I thought so. Keep reading.

Where to get proper training

Okay. So, now I have your attention. Great. Unfortunately you aren’t going to land a machinist’s job once you finish reading this and applying for a position (I mean, you might), but with a little work you will. If you’re still in high school, there is a good chance your school has a STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). If so, enroll. Even if it doesn’t interest you, you’re hurting yourself if you don’t. Who knows, you may love it!

If you’re not in high school (probably 99% of our readers), there is no need to worry. There are PLENTY of ways to get trained and experience to prepare for your future in machining. While it is possible to land a job with no experience, it is recommended to complete an apprenticeship.

In an apprenticeship program, you’ll study anything from machinery trade, operations, CNC programming and much more. These programs can take anywhere from 2-4 years and can be taken at a technical or community college. You may ask how this differs from a college degree, and I don’t blame you. One thing – money. YOU GET PAID TO BE AN APPRENTICE. YOU PAY TO BE A STUDENT. Need I say more?! Didn’t think so.

You completed your apprenticeship. What next? Two options: You can jumpstart into your career as a machinist, OR you can obtain the NIMS Credential (National Institute for Metalworking Skills). This will help you stand out from your competition. Perks of this achievement includes receiving a nationally recognized honor, improved professional image, secured job placement over others and many more. All you have to do is pass an examination, which should come with ease since you just completed a few years of training.

Don’t want an apprenticeship? No worries. Forget about who your best friend is. Google is your new best friend. Use it to your advantage. There are HUNDREDS (if not thousands) of online training classes. Unless you have no Internet access, there is no reason for you to not be able to find online training classes.

Even with all the training you receive, you will never be perfect at the job. That’s why companies require on-the-job training (OJT) to become a highly skilled machinist. All you need to do is land the job. From there on out, your place of employment will take care of you.

Get the training. Get the experience. Get your credentials. Land your dream job. Start earning hard-earned money. Advance your career. Be a machinist.