STC Precision CNC Machining – VIP guests of Haas CNC Nascar at Daytona 500- #41 Kurt Busch

What a weekend for Suncoast Technical CNC !!!
VIP Guests at the Daytona 500

We had quite a weekend !! Haas CNC Racing team offered our class 4 tickets to the Daytona 500. The education wing of Haas Automation HTEC (non profit) contacted us about this great offer. Suncoast Technical College had hosted the first State of Florida HTEC educators conference for CNC machining education. In appreciation of that we were given free tickets to the BIG race. Not just any old tickets.

They were Pit Pass Gold Access VIP tickets.


We were met by Martha and Charlotte from Haas racing team and brought to the back of #41 Kurt Busch trailer. We would be with that team all day.  We got to tour the garages, tech inspection and then we went as a group to the drivers meeting. In attendance was Mario Andretti, Keanu Reaves, Owen Wilson and many other guests.

Then we had lunch with the Haas racing crew of the 4 race cars –

Kurt Busch – Danica Patrick – Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Next up was a visit to the starting line where all the qualified cars were lined up in order along with the new Series sponsor – Monster Energy and the Monster Energy Gals. We all got various photos including one with Kurt Busch and his #41 Haas race car.

After that we were wisked away to the #41 Kurt Busch Pit crew station and the Pit cart where we would be all day.

What a day , with lug nuts flying , gas cans, and cars flying by and the occasional crash.

Getting near the end – we realized how well our team was doing. I was up behind crew chief Gibson when I could see Kurt pushing for the lead in the last lap. Everyone was hooting and hollering.  KURT WINS !! – Now we all run to the winners circle where we where included with the Stewart – Haas racing team. What a day. We all had a great time.


Can’t say enough about the VIP treatment from Haas racing especially Martha and Charlotte. They even sent the whole class die cast Kurt Busch cars as a remembrance of a great day.  Something we will always remember.


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STC Sweeps Skills USA region 6 CNC Mill




The winners

Skills Florida Region 6 Competition at Manatee Tech  Bradenton, Florida

Cody Winegard  – Matt Olsen – Arek Mylnarski

Suncoast Technical College – Precision and CNC Machining program swept the region 6 Skills Florida CNC Milling competition for the second year in a row.  We pride our selves on current modern training especially in the CNC machining arena.  We are past the halfway point with our Class of 2017 – our 4th class since a retooling of the machining program. Our goal to produce 100 machinist in 5 years – we are on track.

The older Haas VF-E is now at Manatee Tech in Bradenton where the competition was held and is still running. It used to be a machine at the old SCTI facility in 2005.  I also saw my old mentor from Manatee Tech – Dave Grenier who was a judge for Skills. Dave is now retired but I had worked at MTC in 2007 as a part time instructor under Dave. So I blame Dave for getting me started in teaching. We all had a laugh.

Back at Suncoast Tech we are hard at work pumping out projects and learning new skills

Well now we are getting ready for State Skills and Job Internships






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Gene Haas Foundation Donation

Gene Haas Foundation Scholarship Donation


Precision and CNC Machining Program  Suncoast Technical College – Florida



We were very happy to receive help from the Gene Haas Foundation so that we can continue our work training machinists for the Modern CNC Machining World. This will be put towards any deserving apprentice who may need financial help to attend our award winning program. I was very happy to get a photo with Dave Thomas from Haas factory Outlet- HFO Tampa as he gave me the info on the need for an instructor at what was Sarasota County Technical Institute in July 2013.

We are now in year 4 and after this year we will have produced 88 machinists with training in Day class and advanced Fast Track CNC Evening school. This year we have just started a MasterCam University Certification course. This will be a stand alone night course but it is also available to our day students who train with us for a year. STC has produced 23% of all the NIMS credentials for the State of Florida.  Furthermore STC hosted the first HTEC CNC machining educators conference in 2016.


We are very pleased to have chosen the best equipment and educational support from Haas Automation and we will continue to help the needs of Florida with more trained and skilled CNC Machinists.  We have many industries like aerospace, Defense, Medical implant and surgical tooling, Mold making and even Disney world has CNC machining.


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STC Visits Lockheed Martin – Orlando



The Suncoast Technical College Class of 2017 – Precision and CNC Machining took a tour of the very large Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Manufacturing Center on Sand Lake Rd in Orlando. The plant was originally built in 1957 and has over 4000 employees working today. Lockheed Martin is one of the largest US defense contractors with over 100,000 employees. They have a commitment to excellence as many of our apprentice machinists witnessed today.

This facility has built many defense systems dating back to the Pershing missile to todays Hell Fire missile system. The other systems this facility is know for is Fire Control. That’s means targeting and hitting that target with pin point accuracy in all systems – whether it is the shoulder held Javelin to PAC-3 (Patriot) missile defense system. They work in the tightest tolerances in temperature controlled rooms with the absolute most accurate tooling and CNC equipment. This makes the difference between hitting or missing a target by 1 feet at 5 miles with a Hellfire. The Pac-3 is known as a defense device that is used like shooting a bullet and hitting the other bullet shot at us.  They also make the EOTS targeting system for the new F-35 JSF Fighter  plus many other systems.

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         We were welcomed by the manufacturing operations staff and they asked each student who they were and what their career path may be. We also have 3 Veterans as students and they were honored for service. The staff gave us a video presentation of the work they do. How they not only do machining with 5 axis CNC machines but Flexible manufacturing cells with Mazak CNC Machines with 100 pallets and jobs that can be called up as needed.

        They have an ultra precision room in which the temperature and even the coolants are kept 68 deg. (20c) Plus or minus 1 deg.  This is to ensure accuracy with Mitsui Seiki CNC Machines to less than .000050 – all day long.  And they are expanding that room and bringing in more equipment, because they have more programs coming on line and will need more mechanical assemblers and machinists.  They will also need more metrology quality control personnel that can operate Zeiss CMM measuring machines

Mitsui Seiki 5 Axis CNC Milling center   – Zeiss CMM measuring system

       Like many companies in the US there is a skills gap in many fields. As Lockheed Martin (LMCO)  has retirements coming and more business coming on line they will need more trained personnel.

The HR staff talked about how they will be seeking more personnel and are welcoming Entry level trained machinist – especially from accredited Vocational Technical schools. The benefit packages are very good plus the pay rate is competitive with good raises. All represented by UAW Local 788 union. A great place to work plus they will pay for your engineering degree if you want to eventually move in another path. You can even transfer to another facility if you desire.

     We also got to see the Fire control Factory where these targeting devices are assembled and tested. Very organized and clean

sxl%20500%20website_1 Optics CNC Center

Finally we ended the tour in the optics machining department. This is where lens are machined and CNC polished to crazy tolerances. They even produce the sapphire crystal glass panels that protect the targeting systems from debris on a fighter jet at Mach 2 and it must be perfectly clear or it will deflect the targeting image.


That’s why our skilled tradesmen of today can work with greatest engineers and design teams to come up with US national defense systems that will protect our warfighters and protect us. They need to work the first time and every time.  No second chance. So the motto at LMCO is “We never forget who we work for”.   I am a former employee of this great facility and saw many old friends and great machinists on this tour. I was involved in a running (2) large $950,000 Mazak Intergrex 1060 5 axis CNC Mill-Turn centers in the Sniper ATP Department.  I teach what I learned over my 30 years of modern machining and that includes the 10 years I have worked at (2) Lockheed Martin Facilities.


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MasterCam – Meghan West visit

The MasterCam educational team

visits Suncoast Technical College , Sarasota, Fla.


Meghan Summers West , president of MasterCam and Dan Newby , head of MasterCam education toured the STC Precision & CNC Machining program today. They are in town to speak at the USF Stem educators conference and wanted to see a local modern CNC machining education program in action.

Stephanie Holmquist, from HEC and USF alum, organized the conference and visit to STC.


We showed them how we teach to be a machinist in the modern machining world.

How STC is using MasterCam Cad/Cam software in our program.

Also how Sarasota County Schools CTE department are incorporating  MasterCam training into middle and high schools using CNC Routers along with 3d printing. Students will learn both subtractive and additive manufacturing


Suncoast Technical College is entering its 4th year of Precision Machining education.  A Career in (under) a year we like to say.

STC has produced 25% of the NIMS credential certifications for the whole state of Florida.

STC is also starting its 3rd year of FastTrack Advanced CNC evening school in Jan 2017 and a new 2017 MasterCam certification evening class in Feb 2017.


Thanks to Meghan and Dan for stopping by to see what we do. They all seemed to enjoy the visit and gave us high marks on our progress.

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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.

2016-02-23 22.19.08

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:

2015-12-07 13.07.41

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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