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story.lead_photo.caption Alex Murdock, assistant in the Electrical, Industrial Maintenance and Instrumentation programs at Texarkana College, performs a demonstration using the HAAS DM-1 CNC machine. The machine's purpose is to remove material precisely, up to .0001 inch.

TEXARKANA, Texas — Texarkana College held an open house on Thursday for its new Computerized Numerical Control Machinery course, with demonstrations performed on the college's CNC Vertical and Horizontal Mill machines.

"We're extremely proud and excited about our new CNC machines," President Jason Smith said. "These horizontal and vertical machines are utilized throughout our region. People are using them a lot more than we originally knew, and they need to have skilled workers. Our advisory group told us there was a need, and now we can better help in meeting that need."

TC will be offering a 12-week CNC Machinist operator course starting June 21. This class will provide students with knowledge on how to operate CNC machines and write CNC programs.

Workforce Coordinator Thomas Holt said the course provides an intensive overview of the skills to perform CNC machining, including work-holding, use of precision instruments, machinist math, inspection, interpreting and confirming blueprint requirements and shop safety.

"We're going to make sure they do all the basic necessities that they need to be able to do coming in to be a CNC operator," Holt said. "When they come in, they'll be able to make the parts, do a re-measure and know the safety behind it, which we're going to spend at least two weeks on. They'll go through blueprint readings, measurements and eventually, we'll go through loading parts in and how to use the loading machine.

"That's a lot to squeeze into 12 weeks, but we're going to do our best to get it all in. And then the students will have an opportunity to take an additional course on advanced skillsets."

A grant from the Carl D. Perkins program enabled the college to acquire CNC machines including two 5-axis vertical mini mills and a lathe that totaled $178,750, as announced in a meeting of the board of trustees in April. The new equipment was purchased with the goal of providing students an opportunity to learn next-level 3-D printing for metalworking to give them a competitive edge when applying for jobs in their fields.

"We're trying our best to keep up with technology, and through the grant, we're able to do that," Holt said.

Smith said TC's industrial maintenance class grew from about 15 students to around 70 before COVID hit. And Holt said they are building those numbers back up again now, which is huge for providing workforce members locally.

"I own a local shop in town, and we've had a problem in that we can't find skilled labor," said Keith Richardson, with Eagle Cutting and Supply. "I know what they need coming in, so we're going to go over some basics of things they need to know coming in the door and understand what they're looking at when operating these machines."

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