Suncoast Technical College – CNC Machining Program 4th place finish in Wichita, Kansas – Final round

Suncoast Technical College recently competed in the 3rd annual Project MFG National Competition. This was STC first time in this arena.

They had to compete at local and regional to qualify for the National competition held at Wichita State Tech, Wichita, KS. Only 4 teams make it to the finals.

It is billed as Advanced Integrated manufacturing contest that represents a typical 2-day work period in industry.  In which projects have a deadline to deliver and meet all specifications and costs.  Today’s companies need to meet tough requirements like the Dept of Defense. In which Advanced methods need to be used to produce high quality components on time and under budget. Sometimes in a very short time period.  Like next week for example. Think of Javelin missiles that are being used in the Ukraine.

The Dept of Defense has identified our skills gap and need to train more people and also Advanced training – Like Advanced 5 Axis CNC machining.  This technology is also being explored and used by all manufacturing to be competitive in todays world.

STC Precision Machining Program decided to enter the competition to see what it was about.  We had to pick a team of 4.   We needed to precision machine 2 components and assemble.  We also need to weld another component complete. Do that in (2) 8-hour days and submit for inspection.  To move forward it needed to be complete, pass inspection and be done in 16 hours for costs.  One catch though. It was recommended that the machined components needed to be done in a 5 axis CNC Machining center.   STC does not have a 5 axis CNC machine. So we did it in our 4 axis machine.   We also don’t teach welding as a course. We do teach a basic introduction to welding.  About one week.  Nothing ventured , nothing gained.

Then we got the notice we passed and were going to regional competition in Illinois.  Plus this time we had to use a Haas UMC 750 5 axis CNC machining center – that we never used before.  But the team came together and completed all tasks and moved on to the Finals.

In the finals we had 3 teams that all have a Haas UMC 750 5 axis.  All 3 schools have been in Project MFG before.  This was Suncoast tech first time.  A one-year county tech school program vs established 2-year college programs.  We had 2 teammates with about 7 hours of CNC 5 Axis experience from Illinois.  Our Lead CadCam programmer was a high school senior that is in the ½ day CTE Program – CNC Production Specialist. But they are confident.

At Finals it was a great week at Wichita State U – Tech (National Institute for Aviation Research).  It was a lofty goal but even with some hiccups we completed the project.  We did finish 4th place and the school won $2500.  The STC team members each received $5,000 ($1500 each and $3500 of tools).  There was NO cost to compete.  We were able compete with the best and learn from this challenge. We also hope to spread the word to other schools that this is a worthy competition to help our students reach higher goals.

We all really enjoyed this competition and great to be among other skilled trades.

We hope to be back next year and hopefully upgrade our CNC equipment to venture into Advanced 5 axis machining as well at STC.   CNC Machining is NOT inexpensive, but it is the standard way products are produced in today’s world. It’s a great career with limitless boundaries.  

Stay Tuned to a one hour show on Project MFG YOUTUBE channel –

For a video of the complete competition coming soon

Integrated Advanced Manufacturing – Project MFG

An interdisciplinary team with CNC Machine programming, welding, metrology and machining skills compete in a two-day challenge to create a product to required specifications.

For the 2022 National Championship, four of the most skilled student teams in the trades came together for the integrated manufacturing competition to find out who welds, Cad/Cam programs and CNC machines their way to the title of Project MFG national champion. The Grand Prize is $100,000

This competition reflects the advanced manufacturing workplace and requires the production of a product – In a normal 2 day time frame.

We create a fast paced work environment that simulates the way it is in modern manufacturing.

We want to improve the lives of young people and America’s future.

When schools, industry and government work together, we all win. Students gain skills to succeed, schools increase capacity to teach more students, industry has more qualified job candidates and U.S. manufacturing becomes more competitive as we level up the industrial workforce.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program provides funding for Project MFG under its National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative. According to The Manufacturing Institute, the skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades—and could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. The DoD declared this deficit one of the most vital challenges for the U.S. defense industrial base. Project MFG is working to prevent this shortfall by empowering the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals—by attracting top student talent to compete, shaping new narratives and igniting investment so more students can enroll in high-skill, high-tech programs.

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STC CNC Machining competes in Project MFG 2022!

UPDATE: We are in the FINAL 4 – Wichita State University, Wichita , KS. May 9-13

National 5 Axis CNC Machining and Integrated Manufacturing Competition

Project MFG is a new education competition, in the manufacturing arena.

It is open to schools that teach CNC machining, 3d printing, and welding. They can be high school or college. Project MFG is now hitting its 3rd year.

The goal of the competition is to recreate a typical work day. A team of skilled students would be given a project and they had 16 hours to complete it. (2) eight hour days.

This would create a scenario that resembles modern manufacturing including time management, team work and budget.

Suncoast Technical College (STC), Sarasota, Fla. decided to sign up and create a team. We entered the Integrated Manufacturing Competition. This was a multi axis CNC machining, weld fabrication and assembly contest. We did not need a multi axis machine in round 1 qualifier or the latest and greatest welding equipment. A MIG (GMAW) welder would be sufficient.

We received our project in a box. It had all the materials and cutting tools needed for the job. It also have a playbook that spelled out the rules. The team could review the blueprints before the time clock was started. This is typical in a mfg. shop where the team needs to “quote” a job. It also involves deciding a process and inspection.

The STC team is comprised of 4 students. Tyler T is team manager. He is also the lead CNC machinist and quality control inspector. Tyler is a US Army veteran. Clint M is another CNC machinist on our team and he is at STC to learn a new trade. Chris H. is the team welder. Chris is also a veteran. Joshua L is our high school senior and lead Cad/Cam programmer. All students are trained CNC machinists and Cad/Cam programmers. We use Autodesk Fusion 360 for our CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing).

On our first round, Project in a box, we stuck to the rules and did all that was needed within the 16 hour time span They also did it without any instructor help except in preparation and break times.

The whole STC machining class was also able to see the project and talk about what is required and how it replicates a typical work day. The first round kit was delivered back to the Project MFG team and passed ! Now we were on to the regionals (semi finals). Project MFG paid all expenses for 12 teams to meet, either at TCAT (Tennessee College of Advanced Technology) or SWIC (South West Illinois College). We chose SWIC and had only 4 weeks to prepare.

We Flew to St. Louis, Mo. on April 11. Our competition slot time was April 12-13. We used day 1 as prep and programing day. Day 2 was our turn in the machine shop – using an expensive Haas 5 axis CNC machine worth about $200,000. The same machines used in aerospace shops like Space -X .

There was one catch. we had NEVER used a 5 axis machine before.

We had trained and prepped the best we could.

It tuned out Great !!

We had NO mistakes and was the only team at SWIC to have completed the project so far.

Plus we were able to complete with 5 mins to spare and only 15 mins to get on the airport transit to head Home! It was quite an event

as or Friday April 15 – all 12 teams have competed and we are just awaiting the results.

If we qualify , It will be held at Wichita State College, Wichita, KS on May 9-13.


The Grand prize is $100,000 and also some nice bragging rights

and something for the team resume .

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Manufacturing and the Medical Industry

In the year of the Corona Virus 2020 we are still learning and growing. Recently we have been able to leave the garage door open to get a nice flow of air in the Precision CNC Machining lab. We are in school 5 days a week – 7 hours a day. We have young College age and High school seniors in our program. We all wear masks in class.

Recent news of a vaccine is very encouraging and made me think about manufacturing in the medical industry. How we in the US are well known for being cutting edge and meeting a challenge.

In World War II, the manufacturing industry had to meet a challenge of going to war. To make all the equipment needed. They also had to engineer new ideas and trouble shoot issues. The United States biggest asset was the ability to quickly pivot its great industrial might and meet the challenge in a un-imaginable time line. We out manufactured the enemy. Now the enemy is the Corona Virus. Operation Warp Speed.

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is a public–private partnership, initiated by the U.S. government under the Trump administration to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Operation Warp Speed was introduced in early April 2020,after a round-table meeting with industry executives at the White House on March 2.

The US Government and Private industry has swung into action again.

Scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci

Scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci have dedicated their lives to the field of oncology and infectious diseases, and spent years pioneering personalized immunotherapy treatments for cancer. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the couple’s groundbreaking research in the field of modified genetic code has catapulted them into the public eye, as the brains behind the world’s first effective coronavirus vaccine. BioNTech.

On Nov. 9, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced some early results for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Data from a late-stage clinical trial show the two-dose shot could be 90% effective at preventing infections. There are also multiple other companies that are developing vaccines as well.

President Donald J. Trump today announced that Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the commander of Army Materiel Command, will co-lead an effort, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, to find a vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said the Defense Department is very excited and committed to partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services, across the government, and in the private sector to accomplish the mission. “Winning matters, and we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad,” he said.

Things are looking good again – Give Credit where credit is due.

Some of our graduates work at various medical companies. The Medical MFG industry demand for skilled manufacturing technicians is huge and all our schools currently cannot meet demand. Great career opportunities. Medical implant industry – titanium knee, hip and spinal. Surgical tooling for doing these operations. I just had shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff. We had visited the manufacturer 5 years ago who made all the equipment that was used by my surgeon.

The vaccine industry requires automation equipment to be made.

Vaccine manufacturers are beginning to leverage process technology that already benefits the broader biotechnology industry.

Sanofi, though its subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur, is one of the world’s largest vaccine suppliers. Kressmann sees the need to accelerate production in line with growing demand as a major manufacturing innovation driver.

“It takes between 6 and 36 months to produce, package, and deliver high-quality vaccines to those who need them,” he observes. “It includes testing each batch of vaccine at every step of its process, and repeat quality control of batches by different regulatory authorities around the world.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a biological process where a very high level of expertise is required. We need to continually adapt production processes to satisfy evolving regulatory demands, which vary country by country.”

The need for faster production has also been recognized by technology suppliers, says Daria Donati, PhD, director, business development and innovation, GE Healthcare Life Sciences (recently acquired by Danaher). “Speed is paramount when dealing with disease outbreaks,”

Innovation also gives vaccine firms a chance to reduce costs, says Janice Paquette, head of bioprocessing, segments, process solutions, MilliporeSigma.

“A central part of MilliporeSigma’s mission and corporate responsibility program focuses on finding cost-effective ways to accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing,”

The war is not over , it still has to be fought. People are still getting sick and dying while we prepare to do battle once again in this new World War against an invisible enemy.

Its no time to go into everyday battle without our protective gear.

Mask up while we wait for the US Calvary to arrive.

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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. 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?




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.

Phase 2





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.


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.


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.
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

Keegan was also featured in a Haas Automation Newsletter

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

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


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


 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 .


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.


2018 MFG Button



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


2018 MFG DAY_date

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



FL-ATE Link for MFG Day



I hope we see these students in the future

See you next year !!!!!

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