Northeast Technology Center’s Afton Campus was recently awarded a $12,500 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to put towards improving its CNC machining program. The grant funds are part of a new partnership to provide schools and training centers with cutting-edge educational materials to inspire students and provide pathways to advanced manufacturing careers.
“With 3.5 million manufacturing jobs needing to be filled over the next decade, our economic competitiveness depends on preparing today’s students for current and future jobs,” said Gene Hass Foundation’s Kathy Looman.
Awarding the grant was Johnnie Austin, Sales Engineer for Timco Machine Tools. Timco Machine Tools is the Oklahoma dealer for Haas equipment.
“Our goal with these grants is to help provide the critical resources educators and students need to understand and embrace the skills required to be successful in advanced manufacturing jobs,” said Austin.
Gene Haas, owner of Haas Automation, Inc., founded the Gene Haas Foundation in 1999. Haas Automation is America's leading builder of CNC machine tools. Started in 1983, the now-billion-dollar company and its owner have a commitment to the importance of US manufacturing with a focus on manufacturing education, scholarships for CNC machinist training and helping technical programs that teach these skills grow and expand.
“The Haas Foundation is big into schools that train in manufacturing,” said Austin. “If you go into just about any shop across nation, you will see Haas equipment. That’s largely because of their commitment to education. The company offers free training to educators as well as discounts on equipment for schools.”
NTC’s Afton Campus started offering manufacturing classes in CNC programming, operations and projects in late 2013. The classes were added in response to members of the Manufacturing Alliance expressing a need for future employees to have some hands-on training in the field prior to seeking employment with their companies. Some manufacturers in the area even voiced a demand for expanding operations in the future if the properly-trained workforce is available.
NTC’s training options are a fit for anyone interested in acquiring skills that would make them marketable to work in the manufacturing industry. Students are trained on simulators, lathes, mills, a metal cutting bandsaw, measurement and calibration tools, drill presses, a Haas CNC Vertical Lathe and a Haas CNC Vertical Mill.
“We have been brainstorming on how we will spend the money,” said Tony Cordray, NTC Industrial Coordinator. “We are prioritizing our wish list of things needed to grow the program to next level. Most of it will be in tooling our machines, including measuring tools for each student, and possibly enhancing our tool storage area.”
NTC would also like to use the grant money to fund scholarships for students who couldn’t otherwise afford the training. Moving forward, the Afton Campus hopes this grant helps them grow a much-needed service to the community.
“We will be working with manufacturers in the area to see what skill sets they need, both in new employees and by enhancing the skills of current employees,” said Gene Schmeling, NTC CNC instructor. “We would also love to move into day classes for high school students in addition to the adult evening classes we currently offer.”
Gene Haas Foundation grants cannot be used to purchase capital equipment or be given to individuals. Scholarship funds are granted to the education programs for distribution to deserving students. To date, more than 1,200 charitable organizations and schools have received funds totaling over $38 million from the Gene Haas Foundation. The Gene Haas Foundation also awarded the Computer-Aided Manufacturing program at NTC’s Claremore Campus a $10,000 grant.