As the second year of the CNC training program housed at the ITAMCO Manufacturing Center at the Plymouth Schools starts, instructor Scott Kaser continues to be confident that the unique opportunity there will lead to life-long careers for those enrolled. CNC machines (Computer Numerical Control) are automated milling machines used to make industrial components.
In 2013, Mark Neidig , purchasing manger at ITAMCO (Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies), presented an idea to Superintendent Daniel Tyree that he believed could lead to course work that might provide dual credit through Ivy Tech Community College and “real life” skills. Neidig said, “We need to keep the USA at the forefront of innovative manufacturing, but we obviously have selfish motivations as well. We need skilled workers in our own facilities.”
Within a few months, the idea became a reality through ITAMCO’s $100,000 initial donation and ongoing technical assistance, the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative (NCAVA), and Ivy Tech. NCAVA contributed funds to purchase equipment and Kaser is an employee of Ivy Tech. The CNC training is open to all students in Marshall County.
ITAMCO continues to actively support the program and has now donated a Zeiss Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) to the program. The donation was announced at the 2014 International Technology Manufacturing Show in Chicago. The Zeiss DuraMax CMM replaces the limitations of manual measuring tools with CNC accuracy and flexibility. Neidig said, “Our facility is better equipped than a typical machine shop and we want participants in the training program to be prepared to work on plant floor like ours.”
Since 1955, ITAMCO has provided open gearing and precision machining services to most heavy-duty industries including energy, mining, marine, and aviation.
According to ITAMCO, Zeiss discounted the price of the machine, contributed 12 educational licenses for their Calypso software for the DuraMax, and provided training for Kaser. The Calypso software enables users to create a measuring plan without programming code or text editing.
During the first year of Precision Machining I at the ITAMCO Manufacturing Center, thirteen students were enrolled. Due to scheduling conflicts with other high school classes, some had to drop the class. Ten of the students earned one certification and nine of those received two certifications.
Although the classes are designed as a two-year program, the four graduating seniors who completed the classes after only one year have all found jobs in the field. Three of the seniors are now working at ITAMCO and one of the ITAMCO employees is continuing his education at Ivy Tech. The fourth student is employed with CTE (Culver Tool & Engineering).
Kaser himself is a certified CNC Machinist with 25 years experience as a machinist and approximately 15 years as a trainer. He said, “I was just like these kids. I didn’t want to go to college, but I wanted a good paying job. “Kaser said, “We have become the center point for local manufacturers seeking employees.” He added, “They are interested in the skill levels the students attain as well as their behaviors.” Kaser said, “The companies were pleased with our student’s training because they were prepared to work on the shop floor.”
Jim and Kathy Bottorff’s son Austin was one of the first to sign up for the course in his senior year. Kathy Bottorff said, “Austin has always liked to do things with his hands; so this class gave him the chance to combine the things he was learning in his regular classes with working on hands-on projects.” “He was able to graduate from PHS with skills that he is using in a job he loves at Culver Tool right here in his home community.”
There were also 9 initially enrolled in the adult night class at the ITAMCO Center. Kaser said, “Eight finished the course with one certification and seven hold two additional certifications.” He said some of the students were already in the manufacturing industry and others were making a career change.
Tyree said, “The enrollment in the Advanced Manufacturing class is close to our maximum number. Most of the students are from Plymouth.” “I feel lucky that our students get to take advantage of this outstanding program. If they make it through this program, they are assured of a job when they graduate.” he said.
Carol Anders Correspondent