Made in Florida – MFG day at STC

Oct 7th , 2016 was a great day at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota, Florida. We were able to host over 200 Sarasota County Career and Technical Education students – CTE – and show them about our school and also about manufacturing.  These students were very engaged especially in our award winning Precision & CNC Machining Automation Lab.

We had three separate groups of high school and middle school students from various schools. It was organized by Martha Proulx and Ron DiPillo from the Sarasota County CTE department. They had buses going here and there, picking up at schools, tour a manufacturing facility and tour Suncoast Technical College.  The students were prepped before hand by using the Made in Florida training module from Florida Advanced Technical Education Center – FL ATE in Tampa. They toured companies like ASO Corporation – Medical bandages , Black Diamond Guitar Strings and KHS America – High Speed Packaging – all in Sarasota.

When they arrived at STC we had an Edufactor conference first. We showed stories on people who are makers and stories like the Chilean miner rescue and What will you Discover.  The exciting people like Titan Gilroy , host of the show Titan – American Built, talking about becoming a machinist.  And wrapping up with Jeremy Bout – Edge Factor story about a young woman’s journey becoming a manufacturing engineer.

Then we had all students tour our STC Drafting and Design department where we teach Solidworks and Autocad. Drafting also has 3D printing and a Davinci CNC Router to make projects that are designed.  The DaVinci is equipped to do great projects from Cuda Country like the balsa wood CO2 dragster car.


Then we are in the CNC Machining Department where all Haas CNC machinery and the adult students were able to show projects and give way many pieces as MFG Day mementos. We even had some students setup and run a CNC Lathe to make a Chess Pawn.

So there you have it, trying to show students other avenues that you can take in life.  Good careers need good training and you may even like what you do. Making things that people use.





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STC annual Field Trip season begins 2016


Suncoast Technical College Precision and CNC Machining Program is deep into year 4 and now hits the road to visit local manufacturers.  We visited 3 shops this year, Weber Mfg., FI-DE Machine and Atlantic Mold , all in the Venice, Florida area.

At Weber MFG , near PGT, we visited and saw one of our graduates Rob Hill working and enjoying his new job. Then we moved down the street to FI-DE machine and visited Karl and crew and his large Haas CNC Mills and lathes. FI-DE specializes in larger work.  Karl has hosted an intern graduate Mark in his shop with help from Career Edge that supported the Internship funding

Last on the tour was a huge supporter, Atlantic Mold and Machining.  They are on our advisory committee and have also hired 2 graduates and have hosted 5 interns through the Career Edge intern funding program.  Atlantic is well know for producing high level plastic injection molds for medical industry and the Tervis tumbler.

So here we go again – 18 adult students who will complete in June, many will be working as paid interns by March.  STC has a nationally recognized machining program that has earned the most Florida NIMS certifications in the last 2 years.  Over 200 certs.

We also will be restarting our Fastrack CNC Machining evening program and a new  MasterCam Cad/Cam Programming certificate program in Jan 2017.

This is a 1992 model Haas CNC mill – one of the early ones but still running at Weber Mfg.



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National MFG Day Oct 7th at STC



National MFG is coming up on October 7th here in Sarasota, Florida at Suncoast Technical College. It is a celebration and awareness campaign to promote what makes America great.  Manufacturing makes it great. Nationwide we have a great need to train people for skilled trades as business has been good and many workers are retiring. So there are many opportunities for good jobs in what used to be considered a strong area in the US.

Check out what Titan has to say about the Future

For many years we have not been encouraging our young people to look at all careers. The mantra of 4 year college education being the only avenue for career direction has taken a turn. It has created a gap in supplying skilled workers in many areas of manufacturing.  Incorrectly we have assumed that all work has been shipped overseas.  Many companies like titanium hip implant companies are very busy. The defense and aerospace at always busy and all that works needs to be done in the USA. At my school I cannot fill all the local jobs to supply even local manufacturing. If we do not fill these positions we risk companies going out of business and losing manufacturing to overseas again.


Woman in Manufacturing

The good news is that we are ready and able to train people. We have many companies that have a need and are willing participants in encouraging young people of even workers who are looking for a career shift. To actually make something tangible that is needed can be very rewarding.


Manufacturing in Naples



Titanium Medical Implants

Imagine attending school for one year, get a paid internship before school end and be earning good money in the same time as entering your sophomore year at college. If you have a chance some companies will PAY for your college if you decide to go on to engineering later.  Or you can carve out a great career that is always changing. That means you can probably even get a job anywhere – high demand.

Jeremey Bout from the EDGE Factor on American ingenuity.

So lets here in for MFG Day !! Be part of what makes America great.  Suncoast Technical College will be hosting 200 Sarasota County High school and Middle school CTE students for a “Rock MFG Day” Event on Oct 7th.  Then they will be going on factory tours sponsored by Sarasota and Manatee County Manufacturing Association – SAMA.

They will see great Video stories on manufacturing from Edge Factor as well as tours of the award winning STC Precision and CNC Machining Lab.  Machining graduates of STC have earned the most national NIMS certifications in the state of Florida.

What will YOU discover?

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STC graduates Fast Track CNC – 2016


Suncoast Technical College – Sarasota, Florida

Year 2  Evening program – FastTrack CNC

We have just finished training 6 more machinists to learn more about CNC machining. The Fast Track CNC evening class is for experienced people in the trade who need more CNC Training. Many local companies send employees to us for more training  to advance their Skills.

This year we added instructor Tom LaGasse from Roaring Toyz. They are a famous local custom motorcycle manufacturer based in Sarasota. They have a full CNC shop that uses all Haas CNC equipment including 4 and 5 axis. Some of their bikes and products have been featured in many magazines and on TV. One creation by Rob Fisher at Roaring Toyz was even purchased by the singer Ludacris.

Some of our students have Haas CNC machinery and we were able to show them other techniques and options to take advantage of become more productive. In the last 2 years we have had machinists who were CNC Operators, former STC students and upper level CNC machinists. We have been able to help each one at whatever level they were at and whatever machines they were using.  We teach Fanuc Control using the Immerse2Learn trainer and software. We also do some reference training to other machinery like Fadal, Hurco, Mori-Seiki and Mazak.

This group was able to earn NIMS CNC credentials in operation and programming for both lathe and mill. 14 NIMS credentials were earned by this group alone.  That has pushed the school over the mark of 200 NIMS credentials earned in the last 2 years. The most for any school in the State of Florida.

We are looking to bring FastTrack CNC back again next year as well as a stand alone MasterCam certification class for evening school.






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How can we help your company?

How can we help your manufacturing company?

As we enter year 4 of our successful Precision and CNC Machining training program we would like to address what we do and how we can do our best to help your needs. We have been in contact with many companies and have some that participate on our advisory committee and also belong to SAMA – The local manufacturing association.  I also know that many companies are smaller and time can be precious to run your business. It can be tough to participate in any extra activities but I would recommend that is you can connect somehow it will benefit your business.

My personal experience. I grew up in New England just outside of Boston. I did not have tech school training and was meant to attend college but never made it. Years later I was working in the auto parts industry and met a friend that went to a 6 month school to become a machinist in 1984.  I decided to take a chance and left my auto parts job and went to that school. I have been working as a machinist ever since.

This was a Matsuura CNC from the 80s that I ran.

The CNC Machining business was just starting to hit its stride at that time in the 80’s. It was a good opportunity for me as I was green and the old timers didn’t want to learn the new CNC machines. Since then I have worked at the smallest economically challenged shops to the largest defense contractor. Over 30 yrs. of trade experience working with great people. I learned the CNC training on the job. There was no training. Some companies would sell you a machine and give you 2 days and then you were on your own. We all manually programmed those 80’s machines.  I joke with my students that they are getting way more training than I ever got.


So how can we help?

I have seen many request for jobs in manufacturing. The machine shop trade can sometimes be viewed as a narrow specific skill.  In reality Machining training finds out if a trainee is meant for the manufacturing world, not just cutting metal.  Even in your standard machine shop we have quality control inspection, we have manual machining to go along with CNC machining, we have mechanical assembly, we cut various materials like wood, plastic, foam and more. Sometimes we have thinkers – blue collar engineers, troubleshooters and problem solvers.  Nothing ever goes as planned and we need to adjust and make it work, sometimes with limited items.                That’s the challenge.

Personally I have worked in shops where I learned other skills. I learned precision sheet metal work, I learned how to spray paint, machine repair, learned Cad/Cam programming on many systems, optics machining and more. Constant learning.


So how can we help?       

For your typical machine shop we teach 100% of the basics. The basics including CNC machine setup and operation.  But there are many brands. Most CNC machinery is similar but not exactly the same. I think some of us, including me, have had to deal with those situations and we take what we know and apply it to the “different” machine and figure it out.  I learned 4 and 5 axis CNC Mill and 4 axis CNC lathe on the job. I knew the basics and took it from there. #2 rule in the shop is to not crash the expensive CNC machine.  So you need to just have control while you figure it out especially if you do not have a mentor. Use what you know and to help figure out what you don’t know.  So if you have a different machine or cut different material like granite, wood, foam, plastic, take what you know and figure out what you don’t know.  No machinist will ever know it all but they do need to know how to solve problems.  It would be nice for a new machinist (with training) to continue to have a mentor to work under as they gain more and eventually more independence.

Oh, by the way Rule #1 is Safety.

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What other skills does machining training satisfy?             I call this the 80/20 plan

  1. Quality inspection is one. We learn to read blueprints and follow process documentation. We use measurement training to check work. We learn to use various methods to verify accuracy.
  2. Mechanical assembly – By nature we are always doing this , so this skilll would be a great fit at a company
  3. Machine repair – Same thing. We always need to fix our own machinery and also other peoples stuff that seem to come our way. Because we know how to get a broken bolt out.
  4. Sheet Metal – We know metal – now just need to learn how to use a shear and a press brake. We can measure and we understand CNC controls. We know safety. We can figure out a plasma cutter or a water jet cutter.
  5. Wood working – CNC Routers are getting very popular in the wood working industry. We know CNC just need to figure out wood. There is a guitar manufacturer that uses the same exact CNC Haas Mill that we use – Taylor Guitars.

The 80/20 plan -We train 80 % of the basic needed skills and then a company takes it from that point and teaches their 20% of specific need. It ensures that your people know your system and your way. If you have a good pool of people to pull from then this is a good way to get what you need.

I know when I had to supervise I had people who said they were good. They had the resume and a big tool box but didn’t take long to figure out that it was a bad move. I had better luck teaching someone with minimal experience but could learn. Instead of battling with someone that insisted on a way that we didn’t want it was better to start with less experience in some cases.   I think we all would like to have a walk in be able to jump right on but in reality it doesn’t happen often. Not only are we looking for skill but we are also looking at employability and team skills.


So I think we can provide good workers for your manufacturing business in many areas

Let us know what we can do to help and also anything specific that we may be able to add. One of our advisory team came up with a plan for a time clock. We now have a computer time clock. All trainees need to clock in and out just like a job.  We also do various field trips to companies are always looking for more. We have a one week Job shadow program that brings a trainee in your facility so they can learn. We have internships starting in the month 9 of the 11 month program.

Just to update – STC leads the State of Florida in NIMS certifications that gives our students testing and projects to verify the knowledge they would need to be job ready.  Our school hosted the first state of Florida HTEC conference for manufacturing educators last year. Bringing together instructors and manufacturing associations to build networking. I am also on the national HTEC council representing one year technical schools and I have attended the last 3 national conferences and work with other high level schools to share ideas.

We utilize Career Edge Funders internship grant program. They will fund an intern in your company.  We have added advanced Fast Track CNC training in the evening school that concentrates on CNC Machining on any level for experienced workers.

Our STC facilities list:

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Haas CNC VF2 Vertical Mill with 4th axis

Haas CNC TM1p Vertical Mill

Trak CNC 2 axis mill

Haas CNC 2 axis lathe

Vertical Mills (2) with DRO

Engine lathe (2) with DRO

Surface Grinders (2) 6 x 12

Drill Press – Large

Belt sanders, bench grinders, and de burr equipment

Horizontal, Vertical and abrasive saws

MasterCam X9 (2 seats)

Solid works (2)

AutoCAD Inventor with HSM

15 Haas CNC Tabletop control simulators

Fanuc CNC control training software.

(We also try to cover other various CNC machinery like Fadal, Hurco and more)

Inspection equipment:


Tesa Microhite



Master 3D gage – digital measuring CMM arm with Verisurf (Can also do reverse engineering)

Mitutoyo Optical Comparator

0-6 Mikes (2)

6-12 mikes (1)

Precision pins

Granite plates (4)

Mitutoyo digital height gage



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Classes start Aug 22 – Be a machinist

Do you want to learn a Skilled Trade?  in less that a year ? where you can get a job anywhere in the US?  Learn to be a machinist. A modern Hi –  Tech CNC machinist.

we have trained 59 apprentices in the last 3 years that are all working in less than 12 months. Earn national certificates that can help you get that better job. Work in air conditioned technology centers on aerospace, defense, motorsports, medical etc.

Look that this story ……..

you can learn to makes things that count…….

Classes start Aug 22 and they will fill fast

Suncoast Technical College 4748 Beneva Rd., Sarasota, Fl. 34243

Florida residents pay only 1/3 of what a national private school will  charge.

Tuition grants are available  – what are you waiting for

See What Titan Gilroy has to say…….

Do you think this is for you?  can you make things?  do you like to figure out puzzles?  can you be in a job in which you NEVER stop learning?

get in the Manufacturing World….



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Suncoast Tech College Year 3 complete and we graduate 21 more machinists

We are just wrapping up our 3rd year of our award winning Precision and CNC Machining Career Training program at Suncoast Technical College -Sarasota, Fla.  We lead the way with producing more machinists with NIMS national certifications than any other school in Florida.  NIMS is the National Institute of Metalworking Skills.  Now, with a heavy heart, we must let this group go on to life long careers in the metalworking industry.  I have watched this group grow fast and start on paid internships before the end of school. 50% of the class was working with about 2 or months remaining. Now we are confident that all will be working in the trade or going on to higher education, such as drafting, design or engineering.  Our ratio of job requests per student was about 3-1 ratio. We cannot fill all the positions that employers ask us for.


Many skilled trades job are retiring plus business is good in manufacturing. Its a good time to become a modern machinist. Work in a nice clean air conditioned facility on high tech components.  Aerospace, medical , motorsports and more. My last job before teaching was as a Senior CNC machinist and CNC programmer at a major defense contractor in Orlando.

We train women, veterans, high school grads and people looking for a career change. One of our woman grads was working at a gas station/store and now is a machinist and a trained welder for a large company. Another graduate is working at a race boat manufacturer making $42,000 straight out of school.  These are good jobs making real things we all need. Running machinery that costs $100,000 and up. Your in charge.

Women in Manufacturing FLATE 2016


Now we are looking for the next group of motivated apprentices for year 4. Seats will fill fast – Classes start Aug 22. Call or go to Suncoast Technical College and sign up today.

Suncoast Technical College   4748 Beneva Rd

Sarasota, Fl. 34233    (941) 924-1365 – Jodie Vaughn – Student Services

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Made in Florida – MTC Engineering

 I needed an intricate clutch system for my Kawasaki ZX14 race bike.  So the people I turned to are the best in the business and they are from Florida
MTC Engineering Cocoa Beach, Florida.


MTC Engineering

MTC Engineering has been developing, testing, refining and producing excellent quality high performance motorcycle components for almost 50 years.  Whether it’s on the Drag Strip or Street, their products continue to be the performance product of choice for companies, teams, and individuals building the quickest and fastest motorcycles in the world.  Their high performance Clutches have been a key ingredient to help many racers win championships. 


MTC Engineering is widely recognized for Experience Driven Proprietary Solutions.  They develop advanced product performance qualities by partnering with championship race teams; to run, test, and optimize their components with feedback from track proven results. In other words, they hear what went right and what needs improving and do it now and not later.  When new products have passed all the extreme rigors of the race track, they are introduced to you, the end user, as a proven leading edge product.  They utilize the latest analysis, manufacturing and inspection technologies available to assure the consistency and reliability of their manufacturing process and to expedite the delivery of the most robust component solutions to you, with confidence.

To earn your trust and long-term confidence, they are committed to continuous improvement of their comprehensive customer service systems.  They understand that having the right product, at the right time and with full technical support is the key to establishing a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.  By working closely with their customers, they bring together the necessary inventory investments and special support services to be an effective contributor for assisting in the attainment of your goals of going fast and quick.

Eric Hochstetler is almost 50 years old (a youngster) and is a degreed Mechanical Engineer. So… how does this make him a genius at MTC Engineering, the maker of some the greatest items in the motorcycle performance world? Great question. Did you know that Eric was a Director of Engineering for an injection molding company in Florida?

No? Then did you know that Eric was originally from Indiana (in the Middle) and moved to Florida after school, moved up thru the ranks of corporate America and finally decided to go out on his own and became the proud owner of MTC Engineering that was once run by Top Fuel Racer Tony Lang? For a man who had exactly zero experience in motorcycle performance products, not only did he get a fast track learning course in motorcycles, but he turned MTC into a powerhouse of speed, quickness and just damn good performance clutches.  Eric worked hard on improving manufacturing processes and at the same time moved most every manufacturing process in house to save time and money. In these last few years of economic uncertainties, MTC Engineering has continued to grow and prosper because of the guidance and direction of Eric and his team of dedicated employees.


Eric has also made major investments in new equipment and better processes allowing for new products to be innovated and produced which allows them to stay on the cutting edge of motorcycle performance technologies.

Thanks To Tiger Racing for this reprint of his article

Well I installed this unit last night and will be testing this Saturday June 11. I have friends that rave about this MTC Gen II clutch system and I am sure I will get equal results. Being a machinist I am always interested in how things are made and show all the students.  I always show them nice machined pieces that they may make some day.

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Precision & CNC Machining Field Trips 2016



Finished our tour of 2 manufacturing facilities in the Naples area. We also teamed up with the Machining class from I-Tech in Immokalee with instructor Ross Porter. Ross and I meet at the 2015 Haas HTEC national conference at Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo, Ca.

The first place was Azimuth Technologies.  Len Zeisner, father and son, are always very welcoming and supportive of Machining education. They gave us a tour of this very busy facility. They have 22 Haas CNC Mills plus 20 Fanuc and Doosan Mills, many with 4th axis. They also had 14 CNC lathes and many more support equipment.

This factory only makes gun components for many armament companies.  The Zaisner’s always let us know they are looking for help, gave us many applications.

Fantastic place and everyone enjoyed it.

  Azimuth Technology Website

Next Stop was just down the street at Structure Medical – leading manufacturer of medical implant products.  Ross from I-Tech and his team at Structure had a nice lunch prepared for us before the visit.  Then we had a talk about what Structure makes and the need for trained skilled machinists for their company.

The medical machining and manufacturing business in Florida is very vibrant. Who doesn’t know someone that doesn’t have a titanium hip, knee or other internal hardware. I personally have a cervical plate.  Any way, someone has to make those items – Guess who?  Your skilled CNC machinists trained at technical schools like Suncoast and I-Tech.

Another great visit and the apprentices get to see what kind of jobs are out there. They come back to class with a new view.

Structure Medical web site


We want to thank Azimuth, Structure Medical and the class from I-Tech with Ross Porter.

I – Tech Website


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Florida HTEC 2016 Conference in the books

2016-03-10 08.47.46

Florida 2016 First annual HTEC Manufacturing Educators Conference a big success. We had over 72 attendees from education , manufacturing associations, education vendors, career counselors and invited guests.  The day began with coffee and morning items provided by the Suncoast Technical College culinary department while everyone go to know each other. The meeting opened with Dr. Todd Bowden, Director of Sarasota county CTE and Suncoast Technical College telling stories about his experiences at our school. Then the next speaker was Mireya Eavey from the United Way and CareerEdge collaborative. Career Edge helped get the STC machining program off the ground after being gone for almost 8 years. Working with the SAMA local Manufacturing Association and president Jennifer Behrens Schmidt, they were able to get grant money and approach the county and Suncoast Technical. In came to life in August 2013. Now we we are in our third year.

20160309_081700      2016-01-28 13.47.40

Next up was keynote speaker Jeremy Bout from EDU Factor. He spoke for 45 mins. and gave the audience showings of EDGE factor videos. Most of this group had never seen these powerful tools and were all in agreement of how it could be used.








Then we all went into breakout sessions for 2 hours. Tooling U, Cam Instructor, MasterCam educational, Immerse2learn, Verisurf, NCSimul Machine, Highland DNC, Autodesk Inventor HSM, Sandvik, Florida Dept of Education, EDU factor, Southwestern TrakMill, NIMS and more.

DSCN1033 (800x485)   20160309_132356

Mike Blizzard from Immerse 2 Learn

Jeremy Bout – EDU factor



Then we had a great Luncheon prepared by the STC Culinary Department and paid for by Haas HFO Tampa

We had Dr. Marilyn Barger from FLATE – the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center speak on programs they are working on in manufacturing education throughout the state.

This was followed by a drawing for a HAAS table top control simulator for lathe and mill.

This was won by James McCann representing Pinellas County schools and presented by Ed Doherty STC, Scott Myre HFO Tampa with his lovely wife. The drawing was overseen by Bob Skodinsky

Bob was also recognized by STC Director Dr. Todd Bowden for his work in HTEC and the support that Suncoast Technical College gets.


We all went off into more breakout sessions and shop tours of the STC Precision Machining program & CNC Automation.

Ted Norman from the FL  DOE discussing State of Florida Curriculum Frameworks


 Our classroom and lab was in full swing all day, with projects and production runs of giveaways plus a demo of an EDUfactor project – Sprocket.

The day was a great success and I have been getting personal talks and emails thanking us at STC and HTEC for creating this event. We hope the word will spread so we can share more ideas for next year. Thanks to everyone that attended.

I would like to also thank STC Program Director – Chuck Drake – for his major help. Thanks to Diane Watson – STC, STC Culinary Dept. and students, Bob Skodinsky HTEC , Scott Myre from HFO Tampa, Dave Thomas HFO Tampa for telling me about this job over 3 years ago while I was working at Lockheed-Martin MFC in Orlando.



2016-03-10 08.48.28

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