YCCC’s new machining facility ready

This fall 24 students will have the opportunity to enroll in precision machining programs at York County Community College’s new facility in Sanford.

The community college held an open house on Monday to celebrate the new program and to give the media a look at the newly renovated 6,050-square-foot space at One Eagle Drive in South Sanford that will house the program. The facility includes classrooms and a fully outfitted manufacturing laboratory.

Interim YCCC President Scott Knapp guided a visitor to the laboratory where new conventional machining equipment and computer numerically controlled machining tools were positioned in work stations around the cavernous room. Knapp pointed out a long row of conventional, manually operated metal-working machines, along a wall of the laboratory.

“That’s where you start in the field,” he said.

The larger, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines stood in another row.

Knapp said the field is called “precision machining” because tools and parts for the aircraft industry, automobile industry and other high-tech applications really do have to be precise. He said starting salaries, with an associate degree, can be $40,000 or more.

YCCC had originally planned to accept 12 students into the program the first year and another 12 the next year. Knapp said Monday that the program will accept 24 students for the first year and that there is room at the facility for an additional program, if there is a need and a demand for it. Knapp pointed to a wall of the laboratory and said that YCCC has the option to lease another 5,000 square feet beyond the wall.

“We know we’re not meeting the state’s needs,” he said.

In addition to his interim position at YCCC, Knapp is president of Central Maine Community College in Auburn, one of three community colleges in the state that currently offers a precision machining technology program.

Bob Franklin, an engineer, who used to work in the aerospace industry, was lured away from a school in Hudson, N.Y., where he taught mechanical engineering and built a high-tech manufacturing program for students. He has been hired to head up YCCC’s new precision machining program. Knapp said YCCC is in the process of hiring an additional teacher.

“We’ve got great hopes for this program,” Franklin said on Monday. “We think we can [accommodate] over 100 students.”

YCCC will offer two precision machining programs beginning in September. Students can take a one-year certificate program in which they will learn to operate conventional machine tools, read and analyze engineering drawings and use precision measuring and inspection instruments. They will also receive an introduction to CNC machines and their operation.

The two-year associate degree program is designed to prepare students to apply technical knowledge and skills to use either conventional or CNC machine tools, such as lathes and milling machines, to produce precision parts. It will include instruction in blueprint reading, machining, lathe and mill operations, and other computer and related technical instruction as well as liberal arts, applied mathematics, and shop and safety practices.

There are a number of manufacturing companies in York County that employ highly skilled machinists, including Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick and General Dynamics in Saco, the two largest in the state, as well as many smaller companies. In addition, many positions are going unfilled because companies cannot find employees with the skills they need. More information about the program is available on the web site at www.careel-tech.com.

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