TMCC prepares students for changes in manufacturing
As Truckee Meadows Community College ramps up its training in manufacturing skills, one of the challenges that the school encounters is the fast-changing face of manufacturing.
In coming months, the school will invest a $500,000 donation it received last week from International Game Technology into equipment and programs to teach manufacturing skills.
A big piece of the money will be used to purchase equipment at which students can learn machining and other skills, said Jim New, associate dean of applied industrial technologies at TMCC.
Just as important, said manufacturing instructor Kelly Oswald, will be the theoretical grounding that the students receive.
TMCC administrators and teachers acknowledge that specific skills are likely to change rapidly, especially as computer systems play a greater role in manufacturing. Students with a solid grasp of the basics will be equipped, Oswald said, to more easily understand the new technology they encounter during their careers.
The TMCC manufacturing program covers skills ranging from machining and drafting to industrial systems.
The development of a skilled manufacturing workforce remains a key piece of the region’s economic development strategy, says Chuck Alvey, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
Nearly half of the companies scouting the region these days are manufacturers, he says, and the availability of a skilled workforce is among the first questions they ask.
Alvey said the IGT donation to the manufacturing program is important, too, as a demonstration of what can happen when business and education leaders talk about their needs.
Tony Ciorciari, IGT’s executive vice president of operations, said the Reno-based manufacturer of gaming systems continues to believe that competitive manufacturing including workers who are among the best in the world is a cornerstone of its strategy.
IGT is the largest manufacturing employer in Nevada, and the state has been alone in posting employment growth in the manufacturing sector in recent years.
Oswald said part of the job of TMCC administrators and instructors is helping students understand the possibilities of a manufacturing career.
Students become interested, he said, as they learn that high-value, high-skill manufacturing remains a strong point of American companies and is unlikely to move offshore.
They are hooked, too, by the technology incorporated into most manufacturing operations these days.
And more prosaically, New said, TMCC works cooperatively with Washoe County School District to make sure that the college manufacturing program fits closely with the skills developed in high school classes.
Many of the classes, in fact, share classroom space with the TMCC
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