TEXARKANA, Texas -- Texarkana College is looking to provide industrial machinery training that is in high demand locally and statewide.
Computer numerical control machining is a field that badly needs skilled workers, TC officials say. TC began offering the 12-week CNC machinist operator course last year to address that need, and the college is hoping to expand the program soon.
"A lot of manufacturing in this new modern-day era is heavily reliant on CNC machining. And there's a couple of different levels of what companies are looking for to hit their quotas and keep their orders up," Dean of Workforce Education Brandon Washington said.
Washington said the two main needs are for operators and programmers.
"We want to run about three or four rounds of this level one training to address the operator shortage. And then we can get to a point where we can offer an advanced level course for programmers," he said. "These are the people who go in and see what the final product is and create the task for the robot to handle."
The current course introduces and prepares students to become a CNC machine operator, a CNC machinist apprentice or a CNC set-up operator. Careers in machining and metal fabrication have a starting pay range of $18 to $25 an hour.
Washington said TC's CNC training program provides students an opportunity to learn next-level 3D printing for metalworking.
"Someone who is trained to use advanced manufacturing tools will have a competitive edge when applying for jobs," he said. "A CNC machine is used to make and recreate parts for industrial machines and several of our local manufacturers are seeking employees ready to operate their CNC equipment."
Washington said TC's priority is to prepare students to enter the workforce with marketable skills that support the training needs of area businesses and industries.
To gauge those training needs, TC partnered with local industries and industry experts.
Keith Richardson, with Eagle Cutting & Supply, is a TC instructor for an evening CNC machinery class.
"Keith is a veteran in the industry, has done it for over 30 years and is well respected. It was very important with this being an urgent need and this being such a high-level training, that we went and sought out someone in our area who's known as one of the best at doing it," Washington said.
Companies like Eagle Cutting and others in the area gave TC feedback on what type of skills are in demand right now for the employees they hire. By using that blueprint, TC built the curriculum for the classes.
Industrial training coordinator Thomas Holt said TC's training equipment is new and provides students opportunities to train on state-of-the-art machines used in advanced manufacturing.
"During the training program, students have access to a CNC lathe and a five-axis vertical mini mill for training which provides them with versatility to work in many industrial settings," Holt said. "Students will learn how to enter designs into computer programs that produce blueprints for tools and dies. CNC equipment converts CAD designs into CAM programs that contain instructions for a sequence of cutting-tool operations.
"Once these programs are developed, CNC machines follow the set of instructions contained in the program to produce the part. Students who train in our program will learn how to operate CNC machines and write CNC programs and will be able to complete either task."
Scholarships worth $200 are available for the 12-week training course that begins Sept. 19. The course costs $650 and is taught on the Texarkana College campus in the Ledwell Workforce Training Center.
For more information or to register, call 903-823-3270 to speak to a TC program specialist or visit www.texarkanacollege.edu/cnc.