Teaching Machine Shop Online – the Covid Dilemma

We had just gone on Spring Break in mid March, heard some news stories , but never prepared for what was to happen. I usually attend Florida Spring Training Games and had also planned on attending the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. I went to 2 ball games Sunday and Monday and before you know it – all shut down.

I am teaching my 7th year of Precision & CNC Machining at Suncoast Technical College, Sarasota Florida. Manufacturing is very busy and I have about 3 jobs waiting for every graduate. We have a one year program with hands on and technical book/online training to work in the today’s Advanced Manufacturing. But now we had to stop the hands on training.

In 2013, my first year, I had to teach with NO machines from August – December. We used our new Immerse2Learn Online training system – did lecture and book work – wrote G Code programs that the CNC machines run on – but NO machining. So here I was again. The only difference was that we weren’t in the same room. A challenge.

https://youtu.be/kCF_MfiT8lc My YouTube talk about that First Year


So we used the same Immerse2learn system from home – we had used that way before as home work and for hybrid training night school. I added a Google Classroom to be the portal of communication and assignments. We also did some Zoom meetings to talk etc. I added on line assignments, like virtual field trips with YouTube and submit a report. Its had its ups and downs.

Our partner , CareerEdge, was able to step forward and link companies that still needed people to get them need hands on – on the job training and also help fund it.

That was a big help.


I had been heading towards more online content for various reasons. One would be weekly assignments could be delivered better. I could use google classroom to talk one on one on projects that were submitted that way.

We had ventured into Cad/Cam programming the year before using Autodesk Fusion 360. This is an online cloud based system that can be used in class or at home. In today’s world everything is designed on computer as a solid model. Plus to make the component you need to program a Computer controlled 3D Printer or CNC Machining Center. We used Titans of CNC Academy Projects

This can all be done virtually as you just use a computer. So we decided to dive deep into that area now. They also could share the digital file with me. I would review on my computer and record a video link that was sent back to them – one on one.


So I know we will catch up with the hands on stuff eventually but we can continue to learn. It can be daunting. Even for myself. To stay on a schedule , get work done, not get distracted. Its not a perfect system for sure – but we do the best we can. I have done some seminars on how I am teaching online and have a YouTube channel with my how to’s.

Our school teaches high school and adults in a Technical Vocational school. The HS students have just completed. Some of the young adults still have a month to go. We have decided to open up the labs for one day a week, using state and CDC guidelines. Generally speaking, Florida has been opening up sooner. So we can test the system to see if we can come back in August or post Labor Day.


I know myself and fellow instructors have used this time to develop and update curriculum. We meet online to chat, share best practices and more. We have some good talks. We show our dogs on Zoom or put up different backgrounds. Its all a learning experience.

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Teaching CNC Machining in Modern Manufacturing

General Topic:

Where should my CNC Machining Curriculum be now?

 

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Keegan family

Anyway – I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that they would be Cadcam Programmers on Day one on the job. So I didn’t teach it and wasn’t really required to do so previously. The newer Florida FL-DOE frameworks does spell out to teach intro Cad and Cam.

The relevance of teaching G-Code Vs CadCam

Phase 2

 

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So I have seen very impressive work done by students when given a hand code project. It brings me back to the 80s when I started and had to program by hand. I could teach that proficiency on a higher level Skills Style contest but I have to think is that going to be used on the job? program a tough part by hand? I believe all should know that G Code basics. Be able to search and edit – move tool #s, and work offsets at the machine. Write a simple program to cut a circular soft jaw. or a quickie face mill operation. I have some older Skills USA national prints and I salivate doing that to show some one how much I know just to show off.

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But would even I ever do that today on a real job? I think of why would I teach rotary table for a manual mill or how to use a manual horizontal milling machine. A Noble skill but we have evolved passed that. We had a horizontal mill in my trade school in 1983 and we never turned it on. I hear stories about the old timers and how they could do curves with a rotary. I used a Prototrak 2 axis to do a bolt circle or even bore a circle or curves in the early 90’s. So have we evolved from complex G code? Consider the time it takes me to teach and them to do. Today we have only 3 Milling G-code projects and that NIMS CNC Level 1. that’s as far as I want to go. 50% of the students will complete all of those and same with CNC lathe.

This has been bugging me and how I want to evolve and keep up with the best shops and even educate some shops that are lagging behind. One of my grads was so proficient with Fusion 360 after 11 months he is doing all the setup and programming now at his new job and he only left 3 months ago.

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At STC we are also going to segway into Mastercam after we do Fusion 360 but only as an intro. I think the way we are setup here in Fla. – we are basically one year tech schools – all you can do is teach intro and hope fully build some proficiency in that time.

I would like to have an advanced CNC Machining course at night where they come back to dig into it some more after they have been on the job. So that would be advanced CNC and Cadcam. We also could be teaching other machinists who may not have attended STC but would like to move up.

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Suncoast Technical College CNC Precision Machining Year 7 under way

STC just received another scholarship funding check from the Gene Haas Foundation. This will help funding and training for CNC machinists and programmers need by the modern manufacturing industry.


This year we have added High School seniors who already have Solidworks digital model design – they are now learning Cad/Cam with Fusion 360 and Mastercam. Plus they are becoming proficient in CNC machining operations.

So we just passed another National MFG Day on October 4, 2019. Manufacturing in the USA is looking very good.

All STC CNC Metalworking Graduates receive multiple job offers.

We also started a Fast Track Manufacturing Technician program. 10 weeks of night school training that will give core skills needed in manufacturing. We have many companies who need good technicians and an introduction to Manufacturing.

This was sponsored by CareerEdge Funders

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STC – Precision Machining graduates start 2 Local businesses

About a year ago I had heard that a couple of our graduates had started 2 different CNC machine shops. I contacted both of them and found it was true.

One of them was Keegan McDuffie and the other was Houston Miller.

Houston had bought a used Fadal CNC mill and I helped him find resources to get parts and repair. He was still working for a local CNC Job shop. I was at a local custom drag bike chassis builder, Dave Skaggs from D&G Chassis in Largo, Fl. , and he needed CNC machine work done. I put him in contact with Houston. Dave was very pleased with Houston’s work. Houston ended up buying 3 other CNC machines – got some space and started MPM – Miller Precision Machine in Sarasota. He is now swamped with work.

Houston had done an internship with 2 local companies before starting his own.  He had already secured part time intern work while completing the STC program. Houston had also completed the STC Drafting program

CareerEdge Funders had just started the internship program and we helped to get students like Houston, Keegan and others needed On The Job Training as paid interns in order to be successful.  


http://www.millerprecisionmachining.com/
Sarasota, Florida

Keegan and I did a bunch of projects at STC – We did a 4th axis CNC Mill  job with 3D machining using Mastercam – I let Keegan loose with CadCam programming. He had Solidworks design experience so the CAM part came easy after we did a lot of machining all year. I also gave him a Turners cube project that he figured out to do with the 4th axis. He even programmed and CNC machined some Foot peg brackets for my ZX14 drag bike. I just gave him a sketch


After graduation Keegan got hired by a local machine shop as an intern. He was able to help that company in using MasterCam Cad/Cam programming system. He completed that internship and joined another company before he and his wife decided to start a business. 

Now Keegan and his wife have started a CNC machining company –

Brer Machine – Sarasota Florida

https://brercnc.com/

Keegan was also featured in a Haas Automation Newsletter


Do What You Love and Love What You Do – One Student’s Journey

http://www.htecnetwork.org/news_info.cfm?news_id=445

Some of Keegan’s Featured work

CareerEdge Funders had just started the internship program and we helped to get students like Houston, Keegan and others needed On The Job Training as paid interns in order to be successful.

I’m proud of these guys and all the graduates of STC Precision CNC Machining Program. We all try to stay in contact the best we can.

We usually start class in August and stay together for the year. 
I remember Mark calling Keegan – “Beegan”‘ – our Friday trips in May to PDQ to get chicken and play cornhole – The field trips we took to local companies and many parts we made. Then its over at graduation in June. Everyone moves on – we start a new class.  

I guess we are all doing ok.

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STC and Titans of CNC Academy

We started our 6th year and thinking about a new direction. We are going to take High School seniors next year to add to the college level CNC Machining instruction. I did want to start looking at a new path. I attend the HTEC CNC educators conference every year. (Haas Technical Education Centers). I meet with other instructors who also have become my friends. In session and just talking we discuss how to teach better.

Brian Cummings from Worcester Technical High School in my home state of Massachusetts and Dan Frank from Rocklin High School in California had started teaching Autodesk Fusion 360 CadCam system. I had been teaching Mastercam CadCam but curious about Fusion 360. So I wanted to learn about it.

In the CNC machining world, the machine runs assisted by a computer. You still need to be a machinist to use a CNC machine but now you have help. The CNC runs on G code generated manually or with Computer Aided Machining – CAM. You can simulate the process you want to use at a computer. Then generate the G code and import into the CNC machine. Setup your fixture – Setup your tools – test out the program and start making parts. Its the best way to make one or 100. In a very clean safe environment –

The CNC machine became dominant in the 1980s as the way to machine metals, plastics, wood etc.

STC Class of 2019

I had used many other brands of Cad-Cam before so like I said I was curious about Fusion 360. What helped the most was Titans of CNC Academy.

We installed the CadCam software in the class room and we did one project – the Titan 1M. We had to do the CAD work (design a solid model) – then do the CAM work ( set up the process and generate the G code) – at finally setup and run the expensive Haas CNC Milling Machine. It was very easy using Titans videos.

I was very impressed with the results. Students seem to have a better understanding of the process of machining and manufacturing from the computer simulation. So when they get on the CNC machine they have a better grasp of what they want to do.

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Scholarships for CNC Machining

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Do you like to make things ?  Things like Monster Trucks

We just received more money to give to apprentices that want to learn how to be a CNC machinist in the modern digital manufacturing world.

That will provide low cost training in an industry that will have you working in a year or less.

Working in a field that is High tech, Clean and challenging.

We need people who can think, learn and troubleshoot.

Do real work that you can see.

We have Gene Haas Scholarships

Tuition to get started.  

We have scholarship partners that are giving you help in your career

Scholarship

 CNC Machines Scholarship application $2000

Currently in the US there are 800,000 jobs in the manufacturing middle skills area – Skilled trades that need more than High school degree but not all 4 years of college.  An apprentice CNC Machinist technician fall in that category. We provide that start of one year training and internships that will get you that good paying job and a career for life. As you gain more skill you can advance to a journeyman Machinist or maybe design and CAD-Cam programming to produce code that the CNC machines make parts with. Some machinists become engineers and many companies will PAY for that college.  

A career that will always be needed and never stop learning .

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Travers Tools $1250 Tools scholarship

Travers Tool is proud to announce our first ever Metalworking Student Scholarship.  Travers Tool will award $1,250+ in tools to a student enrolled in metalworking or welding program at vocational, technical school, community college or university. As your metalworking experts, Travers Tool is thrilled to sponsor the industry’s next generation of machinists.

Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs Scholarships

The logo of Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs

Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs provides scholarships up to $3,500 for students pursuing degrees that will lead to manufacturing careers.

Mike Rowe Foundation Scholarships

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MFG Day 2018 – Suncoast Technical College

We just did our 4th MFG Day at Suncoast Technical College. To see where do you get training to work in Manufacturing.  We collaborated with Design and Drafting and the new Advanced MFG & Production Technology. All students are in Technology/Engineering STEM programs from Middle and High School.

 

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I had my Go Pro Hat cam on to capture the Days events in the CNC machining area. We had some new CNC machinists running machines and making parts.

 

We showed them many things like the Titanium Knee – the Edge Factor Motorcycle sprocket and more parts.

I think the pictures tell the story better than I can so I let them speak for themselves

 

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Cannot say enough for the FL-ATE group as they continue to educate our Floridians on manufacturing and education needed for today’s modern Digital factories and workshops.  They create all these logos – schedule tours – provide curriculum for teachers in Middle and high schools to maximize the MFG day experience

 

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FL-ATE Link for MFG Day

 

 

I hope we see these students in the future

See you next year !!!!!

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Careers in Manufacturing ? eh…..

Careers in Manufacturing? 

Did you know that 66% of parents and teachers do not recommend a career path in manufacturing even though there are 750,000 jobs available right now.

Middle skill jobs are more than High school and less than 4 year college.

For every 10 Jobs in the USA, seven are skilled trades, two are bachelor degree and one is masters degree.  Middle skill includes Computer technology, health care, construction and high tech manufacturing.   They can lead to more training in higher skills as well.

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This chart shows that if you go to college looking for that high skill job,  you may end up at Starbucks with a big student loan debt living at home until your 34. Have a plan………

The perception of manufacturing is that: A) Its a Dirty Job – who wants that.  B) Manufacturing is going overseas – Why put that training to waste if it will be shipped out of the country. C) Its not very interesting and dull work.  – Ugh……….

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a) The truth…… The truth its very high tech, clean and modern.  How about making a Titanium knee implant in an air conditioned facility with clean rooms. Or maybe High strength Inconel steel components for Jet engines.  Maybe even hardened steel Plastic injection molds to make your cell phone?  Not dirty….not dull

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b) Manufacturing  is still very strong in the US. Workers in China are getting paid better now and its not so desirable to move the work out of the country anymore. We still have the highest technology in the world. Look at Space X landing a rocket back to earth. Who else does that?

c) Manufacturing is very challenging. Non stop need for thinkers who can troubleshoot. Problem solvers.  Never stop learning, technology changes too fast. Computer driven manufacturing that still needs that smart human touch.  Besides you make things. Things that we all need. You can see the fruits of your labor.

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Piper Aircraft came to our school to get more graduates. There are many jobs waiting. They have 2 million dollar planes on a 2 year back log.

Is that an interesting job seeing a plane that you were a team member fly off the runway next to the Factory?  PA_M500_A2A_H_Ocean4

Manufacturing just has a perception problem. We need to sound the alarm and let kids know that you can make things that count.  Have a career that makes a difference.

Maybe even – Work now College later.

You can get a skilled manufacturing job and earn a living in a year or less.

Then work for a company that will PAY for your college education!

You can still be an college degree engineer.

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Some community colleges even have articulation programs that will give you credit for certifications you may already have from high school or vocational-technical schools.

They also can train you in a one year certificate program or a 2 year Associate degree to be working in the High tech modern manufacturing world.

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IMTS Podcast about manufacturing workforce – Click

Middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States and in each of the 50 states. All too often, key industries in our country are unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill these jobs. As the fact sheets show, this skill gap keeps states’ economies from growing and employers from hiring.

Solving the skills gap requires educating students about the various career opportunities within the industry.  The upcoming generation of workers and potential employees want to do work that matters. They also want to pursue a career that offers development and advancement opportunities. Manufacturing is all about solving problems. It’s a challenging industry that is facing unprecedented growth and an unsustainable shortage of workers.

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Become a Modern High-Tech Manufacturing Technician/Machinist

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We start classes on Aug 13th.  Suncoast Technical College – Sarasota, Fla. 

In less than a year you can become a vital worker in the high tech manufacturing world.  Good people are needed to make many needed products for the medical – defense – plastics – automotive – motorsports and more. Just about everything that is made, a manufacturing technician/machinist will make.

This is a clean high tech world would very comfortable air conditioned facilities.

Earn good wages $30,000 – $55,000

Our graduates make $14 – $20 per hour after graduation.

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Maybe You are good with your hands and like to tinker.  We also like people who can do computer work to design and produce machine code to run the Computerized manufacturing equipment.  You can be trained to be a quality control inspector as well.

Our program is 40 weeks long and you will have a Career in Less than a year. You will be working on a paid internship before the end of school. You can apply for a scholarship to help pay for most or all of training.

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We train you to have a life time Career. Not just a job. I have never been without a job once I completed my school at age 26.  Plus you will never learn it all – its a constant learning curve if you want – technology changes and you can ride along with it.

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So its up to you to see if you have an interest.

My dad used to say “don’t live your life with any regrets – try it to find out if its for you”

STC

 

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Class of 2018 Graduation

 

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2018 Grad

We reached the end of another banner and interesting year here at Suncoast Technical College. Everyone has had jobs and offers plus some are going on to more schooling.  Many did internships that were funded by Career Edge.

We had friends and family in attendance as well as past alumni that are all still working.  It was a nice get together. I know its my 5th year doing this but one day I will be able to get through the whole thing with cracking my voice with emotion.

One of our graduates is representing the State of Florida

Skills USA for CNC Milling Competition in Louisville, KY.

So we wrap up another year – we have produced 76 more NIMS Industry Certifications bringing our 4 year total to 359 – which leads the State of Florida. 

We also have had 5 students that have earned the NIMS Certificate of Merit

Earning 7 or more credentials in our one year machining program.

So now we start again on August 13, 2018

We need 18 more machinists. 

STC has we also added another program – Advanced Manufacturing.

So take advantage of these great programs –

Most applicants will have funded scholarships from Pell Grants – VA or Gene Haas Foundation.

 

 

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