By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (December 6, 2016) – The workforce is competitive, opportunities are limited and having the skills to push your resume to the top of the pile in a growing industry is what a new program at Ranger College – Erath County is all about.
Registration is currently underway for machining and manufacturing technology training, according to Randall Scott, director of precision machining technology.
The program, which provides technical, hands-on training in manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machines, is a first for Stephenville and the surrounding area.
Scott said the tools available to students in the newly created machining lab are similar to those used across the manufacturing industry, including local factories like FMC Technologies and EGS Electrical. He said comparable equipment is also used to create parts for the automotive, aerospace, agriculture, oilfield industries and the military. They are even used to create molds for most – if not all – consumer products, including cell phones, computers, appliances and more.
“The same type of machines can be used to manufacture titanium replacement hips and knees,” he added.
The Ranger College Erath County program was started through a partnership with local industry leaders and grant funding that assisted with the purchase of equipment and establishment of the new lab.
“We have technically advanced machines and equipment here on campus,” Scott said.
The machines are compatible with a full line of materials, including plastics, woods, metals and more. A chunk of steel can be machined into a gears for trucks, tractors and airplanes, and a block of wood can become piece of a new home.
Scott, whose career has included several years as an instructor at Texas State Technical College and work as tool and die maker at local manufacturing facility, said the job of machinists have changed dramatically over the last 30 or 40 years.
“They used to be considered ‘sweat jobs,’” he said, adding laborers of that time clocked into gritty and grimy manufacturing facilities. “Today, these jobs are found in good, clean environments.”
Highlights of the Ranger College – Erath County program include industry-specific training; preparation to qualify for credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS); introduction to computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM); knowledge in blueprint reading and precision measurement; courses in CNC milling, setup and programming; and more.
For local learners, there benefits span various groups, according to Scott. He said the program is designed for dual credit earners in local high schools, entry-level college students with little to no workplace experience and experienced machinists who want to update their training and improve their skills.
Various levels of training include an applied sciences degree that includes 60 credit hours and about two years of enrollment and a certification program that spans about a year.
“Students with no knowledge of the machining and manufacturing will, upon completion of the program, have the skills and knowledge to become gainfully employed in a growing industry,” Scott said.
The estimated cost of the associate’s degree program is $15,000 over approximately two years, according to Scott, who said that price is a mere fraction of the cost of traditional four-year degree. Financial aid also available for qualified students.
“Most of the time when someone gets a degree in machining, they will go into a machining job,” Scott said. “These jobs are not typically filled by people taken off of the street. Companies want to know they are hiring someone with experience and the desired skills before putting them in control of a $400,000 to $500,000 machine.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average annual earnings for a machinist in Texas is between $41,500 and $53,000.
“The higher paying jobs and opportunities will be greatest for applicants with an associate’s degree or other training,” Scott said.
To learn more about Ranger College Machining Technology, contact Randall Scott at 254-968-1075. He also invites prospective students to stop by the Stephenville campus, located at 1815 West Lingleville Road to tour the facility and learn more about the program.
Time and space is limited for class that begin in mid-January.