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2015 May 27 - 11:56 am

New Machining Program Fills Manufacturers’ Needs

Ivy Tech Community College Addresses Future Workforce Needs with Certificate Programs

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso is working to meet the needs of manufacturers in Porter and LaPorte counties with a new Machine Tool Training program on campus.

A sister program, which has been popular for many years, is offered at East Chicago’s Ivy Tech Community College De La Garza campus.

Valparaiso instructor Donald Baker said the class was established in January to supply workers to local companies such as Urschel Laboratories, Task Force Tips and Regal Power Transmission Solutions, formerly known as McGill Manufacturing Co. Baker said representatives from those companies and several others sit on the college’s advisory board and help college leaders focus on jobs of the future.

“The leadership at these companies say the workforce is nearing retirement age,” Baker said. “They are concerned about having a skilled workforce for the future. ... We are trying to address these future employment needs.

“Alcoa-Howmet is building a second plant in LaPorte, and there will be more than 300 jobs available,” he said, adding the company is a leading producer of integral compressor and turbine castings for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries.

The Machine Tool Technology program currently offers a 21-credit-hour certificate and a 31-credithour technical certificate. When the program is expanded, it will offer a 60-credit-hour associate of applied science degree.

Baker said the programs focus on the foundations of the machine tool trade: safety, precision measurement, understanding of metal composition and machining processes.

“Students then begin using traditional manual machines such as the vertical knee mill, the engine lathe and the surface grinder, earning certifications from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills along the way,” he said.

“Students then move into operating CNC (computer numerical control) mills and lathes. As they progress, they learn to set up and program CNC mills and lathes. Throughout the program, students create real parts that must pass inspection in real-world machine shops to earn their certifications.”

The campus recently purchased its first vertical knee mills and is continuing to acquire state-of-theart machinery to support the curriculum.

Baker said that CNC machinists are in high demand in Northwest Indiana and help companies to stay competitive globally. When a student has the NIMS certification, experts say the advantage to companies is they can use those credentials to recruit, hire, place and promote.

Baker said the first class has 10 students, and in the future they will attract students through a partnership with the Porter County Career Center and word-of-mouth. He said he regularly gets calls from people interested in getting into the class.

“We have a lot of high-end manufacturing going on in Indiana,” Baker said.

Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing job growth over the past year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, the state gained 3,700 factory jobs, 700 more than second-place Texas. However, it is still slightly below its pre-recession level.

Charlie Herrold, 20, of LaPorte, works at Wozniak Tool and Die in LaPorte, where he operates a water jet used to cut metal. He’s been there two years and is looking to further his education. “Ultimately, I want to move up in the company, improve my skills and earn this certification,” he said.

Christina Frontuto, 36, of Michigan City, is one of two women in the class. She said her husband works in the steel industry, and she is interested in the Steelworker of the Future Program.

“Jobs are scarce,” she said. “Manufacturing seems to be one of the career fields that are growing. More women ought to go into machining, because there are jobs available if you have the right skills.”

Zach Vernich, 23, of Kouts, currently works in the medical transport field, but wants to earn a certificate in machining. He said he went to the Porter County Career Center and earned a certificate in computer-aided design.

“I really like this,” he said of the machine tool training program at Ivy Tech.

“We’re learning about how to run these machines and different kinds of steel. This is the introductory class. We will learn a lot more through the year.”

Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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