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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Meg Distler of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, left, Bob Distler of Superior Essex and Jorge Ortiz of Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office tour the advanced manufacturing lab at Ivy Tech on Wednesday.

Ivy Tech now offers CNC training

To meet the job skill needs of northeast Indiana manufacturers, Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast has unveiled a certification program for com­puter numerical control machine operators.

The demand and opportunities for CNC operators in northeast Indiana is growing.

“There are currently 184 job openings in northeast Indiana for CNC operators,” said Cathy Maxwell, Ivy Tech's vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

About 80 representatives from area manufacturing sites attended an open house at Ivy Tech on Wednesday to tour the machine training shops and learn about the new program.

Students who complete the program will become certified CNC machine operators through NIMS, the National Incident Management System.

New classrooms and machine centers are located on the north campus in the Steel Dynamics Inc. Keith E. Busse Technology Center.

Ivy Tech is one of five institutional partners nationwide in the National Aviation Consortium, and the new program is being offered as an extension of the consortium's goal of training 2,505 students over three years in the aviation and manufacturing industries.

Two non-credit CNC classes started this summer in Noble and Allen counties, and the first accredited class will begin Aug. 25 at the Fort Wayne campus, Maxwell said.

The program guarantees in­terviews with more than 20 area employers for qualified graduates.

“There's lots of manu­fac­tur­ing coming to the U.S., and northeast Indiana has a tremendous need for CNC operators,” said Norm Hartman, controller at Auburn Manufacturing.

Two critical issues currently facing manufacturing firms are capacity and capability, Hart­man said.

“The demand for skilled work­ers is growing, and we are trying to replace the craftsmen who are retiring,” he said.

Auburn Manufacturing pro­duces auto parts, and its doz­en or so employees must have knowledge of CNC lathe and machining, Hartman said. An applicant with CNC certification would certainly have an advantage over those who did not, he said.

New employees who have no knowledge of CNC lathe and machinery operations must be trained, usually by another machine operator, which is a tremendous expense, especially for small companies, he said.

“These (CNC certified) are exactly the type of staff we look for,” he said.

Mark Manning, human resources manager at C&A Tool, agreed.

“Completion of the NIMS certification program would allow C&A to strongly consider that individual,” Manning said. “It shows an achievement on the student's part, and I would encourage anyone looking for a career in CNC machining to consider this program.”

C&A Tool has several facil­ities in Churubusco as well as a plant in Auburn; it employs 565 people.

C&A is more interested in “growing” good employees, rather than hiring them from other companies, said Nathan Esslinger, manager of the company's star Swiss machining division.

“Our customers have very specialized needs. We do hire people with strong manufacturing backgrounds who lack certification, but overall, finding strong candidates with the drive to learn, and training them in-house, has worked the best for us. And Ivy Tech is a great place to look for those candidates,” Esslinger said.

Ivy Tech students have occasionally toured of the C&A facilities, and staff members have been invited to speak to students about career opportunities at C&A. The company looks forward to continuing the relationship with Ivy Tech, he said.

“I am very optimistic,” Esslinger said of the new program. “Whenever the industries are more involved in the curriculum and educational requirements for each course, students will be more prepared for the many challenges of modern manufacturing.”

vsade@jg.net

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