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[November, 1, 2013] With snow already flying along the Front Range here in Colorado, it's hard to believe that 2013 is rapidly approaching its end. Before the hectic pace of the holidays set in, the staff at your go-to Longmont CNC machine shop would like to take the time to update readers on what we feel has been a key initiative of ours throughout the course of the year. In May, our precision machining blog introduced readers to an unexpected reality confronting the high speed CNC machining industry - difficulty in finding qualified CNC machinists. Here in Colorado, the demand is high for entry level milling and machining personnel. In response, APM co-founder Kirk Tuesburg applied for a part-time instructor position at a local Front Range Community College (FRCC) to teach a short-term course in precision CNC machining.
In an effort to support the needs of all Colorado precision manufacturing shops, we are happy to report that Kirk was offered, accepted, and has begun his new teaching position. Professor Tuesberg is actively training the next generation of high-speed milling machine operators. The operation of a CNC mill, lathe, or CNC router is a highly skilled profession, requiring years of specialized training. Aspiring machinists typically train as an apprentice at a vocational school, community, or technical college, then move on to 4-5 years of further instruction and on-the-job training to become fully trained CNC machinists. The program at FRCC includes an 81 hour Introduction to Machining course covering basics such as machine shop safety, CNC machine tools, shop math, and manual milling and turning lathe techniques. Other classes include Intermediate Machining, Advanced Machining, and Quality Control for the Machine Shop. For registration and more information, visit http://www.frontrange.edu/machining/.
Kudos to Kirk and FRCC for responding to the needs of manufacturers who want and need to hire qualified CNC machinists. The demand is out there. In developing the curriculum, FRCC met with 30 precision manufacturing companies, including Advanced Precision Machining in Longmont, to asses their hiring needs. About 90% of local machine shops have plans to hire an average of five machinists in the upcoming year, if the labor pool warrants it. At APM's CNC shop, and across the industry, we are anxiously awaiting the fruits of Kirk's and his students labor. It's a win-win on many fronts. In fact, Kirk is going back to school in more ways than one. In preparation for his foray into the world of teaching, he is sharpening his own skills by re-learning many milling and machining fundamentals. For example, the manual operation of a lathe has been replaced by the CNC turning lathe. If he has to teach the basics, he must re-learn the basics. According to Kirk, he is most excited about where he will be teaching in the future. Recently, the Colorado Secretary of Labor announced the award of a 25 million dollar grant to build a new CNC machining training center where all courses will be taught right here in Longmont! Hats off to FRCC's steering committee for spearheading this one, and best of luck to Kirk and all those involved with this boost to theprecision manufacturing sector here in Colorado.
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Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he partnered with his friend and colleague, Kirk Tuesburg, currently APM’s machine shop manager, together launching what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.