NIC’s machine technical program received a new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling machine.
The machine was largely paid for through grant funds and private donations, and it took over a year for the program to gather enough money to make the purchase.
According to machine technology instructor Jim Straub, the machine is a crucial tool that has been missing from the course.
“This is where the jobs are. I’d say 95 percent of these [machining and manufacturing] jobs involve those machines,” Straub said.
Selecting a machine students would be likely to encounter in the workplace was the main criteria the instructors had, and they ultimately decided on a cost effective model from the American-based company, Haas.
Super Mini Mills, such as the one purchased, are listed as $ $31,995.00 on the Haas website.
While the machining program has several CNC machines, they are older, slower, less accurate and not up to date with current industry standards. The program also has several manual milling machines.
With the updated machines being such an integral part of the training program, several local manufacturing businesses stepped up to donate the largest amount of private funding. “We received quite a bit of money from Mackay Manufacturing and others like it. That started the ball rolling and NIC kicked in the rest,” said instructor Vic Gilica, machine technology instructor.
Some students are already beginning to see the benefits of understanding the updated technology.
“I actually had a job interview with an employer who said one of his main concerns was whether or not I have had experience with these particular machines,” said Jeremy Munson, 18, Machine Technology, Rathdrum. According to Munson, explaining that his class just got the machine and that he was learning its operation already was a bonus.
Only second-year students are allowed to operate the delicate machine, and only after mastering manual machines and learning how to use the special codes necessary to program the machine’s computer.
“If you program it with a decimal in the wrong place, it’ll drill through the vise, through the table,” Gilica cautioned. “It doesn’t make judgments.”
Straub says the instructors haven’t decided yet how many projects students will be required to complete using the machine next year.
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