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Upgraded CNC lab expands opportunities for NWTC students

Author: Casey M Fryda

Friday October 24, 2014

Students training for one of Northeast Wisconsin’s hottest careers will have more opportunities than ever, thanks to the recent opening of the expanded computer numerical control (CNC) machining lab at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The 9300-square foot lab, newly configured to more accurately reflect modern manufacturing plants, will be used to train students in NWTC’s Machine Tool Operations and CNC Technician programs. The addition of 2650-square feet and more than a dozen pieces of new equipment will help students move through their programs – and into the workforce – faster than ever, says Jay Jochman, NWTC’s lean manufacturing coordinator.

“The equipment upgrades and lab expansion help eliminate machine wait times, which is a big deal for our students,” says Jochman. “We’re able to serve them more efficiently, moving them through their program and into jobs faster. By expanding our facilities, the lab is also much safer.”

New lab equipment includes five mini mills, seven manual lathes, two surface grinders, six knee mills, a horizontal machining center, and various saws and drill presses. Nine new computers with computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) software were also added.

The remodeled lab comes as industry continues to look for more skilled CNC workers to fill vacant positions. Last year, more than 150 students enrolled in NWTC’s two programs, with another 123 graduating. That’s nearly double the number of graduates from 2011, when 66 completed their degree. The upgraded lab, says NWTC Trades & Technologies Dean Mark Weber, goes a long way towards increasing opportunities for students interested in manufacturing careers, and filling high-demand jobs.

“Demand for CNC Machinists is among the highest of any position in our region,” said Weber. “By providing more space for training, new equipment upgrades and through the adoption new Lean Manufacturing processes, we’re able to be even more responsive to the needs of industry, and to the needs of our students.”

The CNC lab upgrade was made possible through a Department of Labor grant, with NWTC also allocating funds to retrofit a lab and add equipment.

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