The grant will fund the purchase of new cutting-edge equipment in the field of manufacturing, including a robotic welder and advanced Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) cutting machinery.
“This equipment brings us up to par with the best industrial technology programs in the state, including Cal Poly,” said Robert Mabry, machine technology instructor.
This will be the first time that Hancock students will have access to a robotic welder in the classroom, Mabry said. The new CNC cutting machinery, he added, is so advanced that it allows students to cut or drill holes into an object on five separate axes without turning off the machine or moving the object between cuts. The machining lab currently uses a three axis machine.
“The industrial technology industry is moving toward more efficient machines, and we’re moving with it,” Mabry said.
Mabry, along with college’s Institutional Grants Office, wrote the $300,000 grant, which establishes the Central Coast Manufacturing Initiative at Allan Hancock College. The goal of the initiative, Mabry said, is to provide technology education and training to meet the needs of the approximately 175 manufacturing companies and employers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
“Students who can operate a robotic welder and know how to use CNC machinery have more opportunities for employment and are more in demand,” Mabry said.
Machinists’ skills are needed in a wide range of industrial and manufacturing arenas and jobs are found producing and maintaining parts in aerospace production, automotive manufacturing, agriculture and medical instrument manufacturing, among others.
The new equipment will be available to students fall semester 2013. Already, classes are receiving advance training through five axis computer simulations.
The grant will also fund an outreach campaign to connect trained machinists with local employers and to assist currently employed workers in the region to increase their skill level.
“This is an exciting time for industrial technology and manufacturing education at Allan Hancock College,” Mabry said. “We plan to work with local industry leaders to ensure that they have direct access to a pipeline of highly skilled workers, and we will be able to do this by staying current and responding to the changes in technology driving the industry.”
— Sonja Oglesby is a public affairs and publications technician for Allan Hancock College.