LIBERAL, Kan. — Hands-on tradecraft has a whole new meaning in the 21st century, and the Tooling Futures Expo slated for July 18 and 20 at the Industrial Tech Campus of Seward County Community College offers guests a close-up look. The Machining and Manufacturing Technology program at SCCC will host guests at the open house and demonstration from 4 to 6 p.m. two days, Tuesday, July 18, and Thursday, July 20. The event provides a chance to explore high-demand, high-paying careers, meet instructors, and even enroll in the program for fall.
“Like a lot of people, I just didn’t really understand the possibilities until I went into the shop space and saw how cool it was,” said Dr. Amber Jones, dean of industrial technology. “The sky is the limit with these machines and the technology. You can make anything you imagine.”
Instructor Butch Garst, who has taught for 25 years at the college, added that the amazement has not worn off over the years.
“It’s just crazy, what we can do,” he said. “We can build automotive engines. We can cut through two-to four-inch thick metal with our water jet. We can measure down to 1/1000th of an inch.” Beyond the individual projects possible at the college, Garst said the skills students acquire enable them to be part of manufacturing processes that generate machine parts and objects in batches of gigantic scope. “With the computer software they set up, it generates code for the machine to international standards, which means the automated processes can create 10,000 or more parts.”
The equipment at SCCC includes a 3D printer, an abrasive water jet, plasma jet, and CNC as well as traditional lathes. Along with work in the machining shop, students can complete courses in drafting and design and welding. All three programs offer multiple exit points, which means students can opt for one-semester, two-semester, or three-semester certificates or an associate’s degree.
“Before I started two years ago, this program was on its way out,” said Jones. “We had so much equipment and so many people in industry begging for this program, we decided to revamp it and continue offering it. The employers in the industry are just dying for people with these skills.”
Garst said the average starting pay in the machining industry is $60,000 annually, with many opportunities to advance. Currently, the program works to help students find placement after they complete the program, “in Garden City, with local companies, Hesston, Moundridge, Emporia — wherever the demand is.”
The Tooling Futures Expo is designed to give visitors a taste of the program’s possibilities.
“We will have advisors on hand to help students enroll, and even explore scholarship opportunities,” said Jones. “We hope people will come out and learn about the opportunities.”
For more information, contact Jones at 620-655-2630 or via email at email@example.com.