08/11/13 — New equipment boosts WCC machining program

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New equipment boosts WCC machining program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 11, 2013 1:50 AM

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Ted Koger, right, computer-integrated machining instructor at Wayne Community College, demonstrates the CNC drill press tool in the machine shop for students Mark Barnett and Joseph Greer.ï¿¿

As hard as the machining program at Wayne Community College works to keep abreast of changing technology, the high cost of equipment often slows down the process.

"To be able to train our people to meet the needs of manufacturers, they have to have equipment that's updated and equivalent to the industry, and we really try to stay ahead of the curve of our local manufacturers," said Ted Koger, computer-integrated machining instructor.

Typically, he said, the department has been able to keep pace with the machines and equipment used to train students. But there are still challenges in the two-year program.

"When we're training our students, what we have today, he's not going to be in the workplace for two years," Koger said. "By then, a lot of advancements have been made."

That all changed this spring, when WCC was named one of 14 community colleges to share a $5.7 million grant to provide hands-on training in skill areas in demand by North Carolina companies. Funds could be used to purchase equipment, renovate space and make electrical improvements, obtain certification for instructors and the training lab at WCC, support internships and assist students with certification fees.

"Basically, we have had a facelift in our shop," Koger said. "We have got a brand new floor, a quarter-inch epoxy floor system. We have got rid of the green walls. We have redone our air lines."

And the centerpiece of the shop is now a $170,000 CNC drill press machine that second-year students in the program will be introduced to in the fall.

"I have not used a tool probe like this," Koger admitted. "It's kind of limitless. This could be (used for) aerospace, automotive manufacturing. It's got a five-axis capability.

"Most of our machines have a 3-axis (3-D) capability. (This) improves set-up time, production time. You can do multiple operations this set-up. It's been a long time coming."

Staff in the program have been waiting for this day and are grateful that Golden LEAF made it possible, said Paul Compton, department head/instructor in the industrial technologies program.

"(Grant writer) Dorothy (Moore) and I have been joking around, for eight years we have been trying to get a Golden LEAF grant to be able to purchase this, so we were in great celebration when we heard this," he said. "We're fortunate it came eight years later. Some better technology is on this machine."

The grant also provided for renovations to the machining shop, another thing Compton hadn't expected to see.

"When I moved in here, maybe 1992, 1993, I never thought that the floors would ever be done or the walls would be painted again," he said. "By the spring semester and the summer semester, we moved everything out. The shop was completely empty. They came in and sanded the ground, the floor, down, put a new coat of epoxy floor."

Koger says the aesthetics are important, as the program prepares students for what they will find at a job site. While sometimes a shop can be naturally dirty, it can also be kept clean, he said.

"It's the difference between a 'shop' and a 'lab,'" he said. "This is more of a lab environment now than the traditional machine shop."

The latest addition to the machining program will not only be beneficial in preparing students for the work force but also position the college for national accreditation.

"All this, the painting, the machines, updating the older machines is one of the things that has been preparing us for our NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) certification," Compton said. "We're trying to get the school and the shop accreditation."

For the college, the accreditation will be good for five years, Koger said.

For the students, the certification will be even more valuable.

"It looks good on the resume, for students to be certified," he said of the nationally recognized criteria. "We have a lot of military that come through this program. Having that national certification is a bonus for students who travel to other states."

Koger said the plan is to complete the NIMS certification by next spring.