It is an exciting semester for students in the Precision Machining Technology (PMT) program at Northern Maine Community College this fall. The lab has been expanded and renovated for the program thanks to $135,000 in funding from the legislature. As part of that funding, another $25,000 was used to purchase equipment last year which included a manual lathe and vertical mill.
The renovation, which was completed last week, combines the existing PMT lab and the adjacent Computer & Network Technology lab to create a 4,000 square foot lab all dedicated to precision machining. The program teaches students how to produce precision parts through the set up and operation of conventional machine tools and the programming, set up and operation of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) vertical machining centers as well as turning centers. The new lab contains six manual lathes, five manual milling machines, two pedestal grinders, a coordinate measuring machine, an optical tool presetter and CNC vertical milling machines among other pieces of state-of-the-art equipment. Previously, the program operated out of two separate labs on campus.
“The new space accurately portrays a ‘job-shop environment’”, explains instructor Dean Duplessis. “The consolidation of manual and CNC machining labs in one area will permit increased access for students; resulting in increased opportunities as well as increased machine tool utilization – more time on task.”
The Precision Machining Technology program (established in 2003) at NMCC was the first HAAS Technical Education Center in Maine’s Community College System. Through this collaborative relationship with HAAS Automation, Inc., students have access to current technology to support training. Because of the program’s strong ties to precision machining companies across the state and region, graduates are highly sought after and returning students are provided with summer internship opportunities.
“The demand for skilled machinists remains strong with companies such as Pratt & Whitney, General Electric and Smith & Wesson,” says Duplessis. “These companies and others like them are looking to fill openings resulting from growth in their respective industries as well as an aging workforce. Because of the “live” learning experience at NMCC, employers consistently comment on the preparedness of our students.”
Meanwhile, renovations are wrapping up for the new Computer & Network Technology lab which is being relocated in Aroostook Hall…the second of three building projects taking place on campus this summer.