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.

The relevance of teaching G-Code Vs CadCam

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.

Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Machine Shop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

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


Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

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 !!!!!

Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

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.

Midde Skill chart

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……….


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


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.


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.


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.


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.



Posted in Machine Shop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Become a Modern High-Tech Manufacturing Technician/Machinist


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.

100_0891  100_0338
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.

STC donation

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.


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”



Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

Class of 2018 Graduation



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.



Posted in Machine Shop | Leave a comment

Mission Accomplished Year 5 – 100+ Machinists


We started with no equipment.

We had a local group named CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

CareerEdge was designed to work on both sides of the labor market – the supply side and the demand side – as well as among intermediary organizations, such as higher education institutions, in order to fuel the pipeline of skilled labor needed by the region’s employers.  Two of the most tangible goals are to help low-skill/low-wage workers advance into higher-skill/higher-wage careers, while providing employers with the workers they need to accelerate growth.
CareerEdge hired Kempton Research and Planning to help us conduct a skills analysis study. The results of this study illustrated the skills gap and articulated misalignment and challenges.  Jeff Maultsby (Economic Development of Sarasota County), Jennifer Behrens Schimdt (SAMA and Atlantic Mold & Design) and Mireya Eavey from CareerEdge presented the findings to the Sarasota County Commission and County School Board Members. CareerEdge spent a significant amount of time advocating to convince the school and commission why it was necessary to move forward with the program proposed. As a result of our efforts, Sarasota County funded the necessary equipment needed $325,000. CareerEdge also provided an additional $25,000. Jeff and Mireya united community partners around this mission and developed a community-wide action plan.

CareerEdge, a privately funded workforce-development group that focuses on harnessing a community’s full resources, hired Kempton Research and Planning to conduct a skills-gap study. The results were clear.

When asked about the greatest hiring challenges over next three to five years, 38 percent of manufacturing companies named skilled production workers as the most difficult to find — twice the number who answered engineers and four times the number who said sales and marketing people. And 75 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that schools are not preparing workers with skills needed in manufacturing.

CareerEdge — the only organization of its kind in Florida as part of the national Funders Collaborative — helped put together the workgroup that began searching for the best solution. The group included: CareerEdge; Sarasota & Manatee Area Manufacturers Association; SCTI and the Sarasota County School Board; Suncoast Workforce Board; Sarasota County Commission; Gulf Coast Community Foundation; Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; and Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.


“From the very beginning, there was a spirit of cooperation,” said Jeff Maultsby, director of business and economic development for Sarasota County. “It was really a model effort on how things can be done and should be done.”

“The study was definitive that the jobs were here in this community,”  Todd Bowden said. (Director of SCTI at time and current Sarasota County Superintendent.) He moved swiftly to make a change-order in a building already under construction to accommodate the new machining program’s lab.

The previous Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) machining program was closed from lack of participation and machinery auctioned.   Sarasota county decides to build a new school in 2012 – But no machine shop in the plans.

The local manufacturers’ organization, SAMA, played a crucial role, representing the 600 manufacturers in the two-county area. Jennifer Behrens Schmidt, president of SAMA and of Venice-based Atlantic Mold & Machining Corp., dug in with SCTI to help move things along, including the development of the precision machining training program. She probably logged the most hours on a volunteer basis.


In an unusual move, local manufacturing leaders were instrumental in creating the materials needed by the program. It was an employer-led curriculum. That cut the cost of machinery in half, because the people in the field knew what was, and was not, needed.


Then I got a note from Haas CNC machinery HFO Tampa salesman Dave Thomas that the school needed an instructor. I was working at defense contractor Lockheed Martin in Orlando at the time but it interested me. And so we begin.

On August 2012 I started the first class of new program with 18 students and we had NO machines for 4 months.  But we learned as much as we could during those 4 months and we didn’t lose any students during that time period.  We did some field trip s and shop tours to educate that way.  Local manufacturer Sun Hydraulics came by with a donation of raw material metals.  Machinery was coming in slowly and electric being hooked up. Director Todd Bowden promised we would be fully functional when we got back from Christmas break.

January 2013 – we come back and everything is working – just as promised. We dug into that big box of donated metals and we went to town.  The rest of those months from January to June we spent being machinists.


Then its June and time to finish. We decide to have an official graduation. All the students have been hired by local companies.  Success. We made it.  We have done the same for the next 4 years. Added some night school as well. Produced 100+ machinists who all have jobs in the local community. Time for Phase 2.

We lead the state in NIMS industry certifications with 358 in 4 years

I guess I have a special feeling for the original class of apprentices. Some graduates are still working and building skills on the job and now training more apprentices. Two of our Graduates have started their own CNC Machine shops.

Even Ivan P. from our first class was recruited to work at the new Tesla Lithium battery plant in Sparks Nevada. I made him promise to send a pic of him in front of the Tesla sign



I just wanted to give a thanks to all that made this happen. Many times we make plans and they don’t come out the way it was planned.  But this time it did.

shop group promo100_0572100_089130156492936_91c2f93e1e_o20171109_115853

“This accomplishment would not have been possible without all involved.”
It is important that we recognize and sincerely thank

CareerEdge Funders

  Sarasota & Manatee Area Manufacturers Association,

Suncoast Technical College

Sarasota County School Board

Suncoast Workforce Board

Career Source

Sarasota County Commission

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.

Graduation for the Precision Machining & CNC program will be held in the Suncoast Technical  College Conference Center on June 21 at 6:00pm.

We look forward to our continuing journey as we move on to Phase 2 in training and filling jobs in the Manufacturing sector for our community

Posted in Machine Shop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment