A motorcycle built from the ground up by students at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School gleams in the Southwest Kansas sunshine. Courtesy photo
School offers unique options in welding and machining
If your specialty is technical education, never mind the “A-list” favored by celebrities; the M-List is the top tier.
Seward County Community College/Area Technical School recently earned a spot on the roster maintained by The Manufacturing Institute of Washington, D.C. Students enrolled in the SCCC/ATS welding and machining programs can receive dual certifications from the American Welding Society and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, as well as receive college credit.
As one of only three M-List recipients in Kansas, SCCC/ATS is also the only community college in a 200-mile radius to offer students these unique options.
“The Machine Tool Technology program is the most comprehensive machining program in Western Kansas,” said instructor Butch Garst. “There are no other programs that I know of in this area.” While two other schools in the area offer welding programs, he added, “students at SCCC/ATS receive in-depth training in all aspects of the industry.”
To develop the industry-focused program, said SCCC/ATS president Duane Dunn, the college increased collaboration among departments – drafting, machine tool, welding and auto collision.
“The students are gaining an integrated knowledge base through increased involvement in applied manufacturing,” he said. The program utilizes Kansas Department of Commerce initiatives with neighboring community colleges in Dodge City and Garden City.
While regional and statewide connections are a valued part of the SCCC/ATS program, instructors also rely on important local connections.
“Both the welding technology and machine tool technology programs use live work from the community as an instruction tool,” said Garst. “We believe it benefits students to learn how to perform real-world tasks.”
Every semester, Garst leads his students through the entire manufacturing process from an idea to a finished product.
“Whether it is a simple part or a complex assembly, the process is the same,” Garst noted. “The best project we have accomplished is a custom motorcycle.” With guidance from the instructors, students designed, machined, fabricated, welded, painted and assembled the entire project “from the ground up,” he said.
Another multi-program project focused on design and fabrication of a top-of-the-line cooker/smoker for SCCC/ATS food services. Students got a personal perspective on the results at an end-of-the-year cookout event. Real-world applications, they learned, can taste great.
While students focus on the project in the shop, Dunn and division chair Larry McLemore keep an eye on the big picture — the students’ future job prospects, and strengthening relationships between SCCC/ATS and industry leaders.
“As we continue to build these programs, I hope that we will continue to broaden opportunities for our students directly in response to industry’s labor demands,” said McLemore.
The M-List will serve that purpose well, Dunn said:
“Employers can have confidence that their industry-based and validated expectations are readily available and prepared in order to meet their production goals. A well-educated and skilled employee (recognized by M-List) reduces internal training costs, which results in greater productivity and profitability.”
Dunn believes that industry will support those regional economies in which a well-trained and educated workforce is available.
“Our designation as an M-List program,” he said, “will help attract manufacturing industry to our community and region.”
Just the facts … industrial facts
In the Machine Tool program at SCCC/ATS, students gain extensive training on manual machines such as engine lathes, vertical knee mills, drill press, CNC vertical machining center, CNC horizontal turning center, and CNC abrasive waterjet.
They learn CAD/CAM systems commonly found in industry — SurfCam, MasterCam, and SolidWorks.
Students receive instruction in quality control and inspection using a Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM), and an Optical Comparator.
Students in welding learn to set up and operate welding machines for FCAW, SMAW, GTAW, stainless steel, aluminum, pipe, and structural projects.
They also use a sheet metal shear, a 200-ton press brake, tube and pipe bender, and an iron worker.
About The Manufacturing Institute
The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation's manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.