Wiregrass Tech is preparing for industry needs
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In the 1990’s there was a huge push for high school and college students to consider Health Occupation careers with the growing number of the baby boomer generation getting older. Now, Manufacturing and Construction industries are feeling the effects of an aging population. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College works closely with industries and businesses in the eleven counties it serves in South Georgia. A common theme among each of those industries is the increasing need for trained graduates to replace the retiring baby boomers in industrial fields. Since most of those retiring have held on to these good paying and secure jobs for twenty plus years, the need for training their replacements has gone unnoticed for decades. One of those fields now in high-demand is Machine Tool Technology.
Wiregrass Tech’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Brandy Wilkes shared, “To answer the need for our industries, Wiregrass has purchased the latest technology equipment in Machine Tool costing over $200,000. The program will be getting a 5-Axis Mill and a Y-Axis Lathe.” This brand new technology will allow Wiregrass to introduce students to the latest in technology in the field. “We are excited to be able expand this program to the Coffee Campus, located in Douglas, to better serve the needs of our businesses and industries,” said Wilkes. The program is also offered at the college’s Valdosta campus. With the program starting Spring Semester 2018 on the Coffee Campus, a new Basic Machinist Technical Certificate has been added to the college’s curriculum so that students in Dual Enrollment classes can take advantage of this opportunity at Coffee County School System’s Wiregrass Regional College and Career Academy located on the Coffee Campus of Wiregrass. This certificate program is also offered to dual enrollment students on the Valdosta Campus.
If asked to describe what machine tool technology is, one could respond by stating it is the process for creating the parts necessary to make almost anything work. Open any device and you will find a number of parts that cause the device to operate and were made by a process found in machine tool technology. Students will learn the skills to make, test, and repair precision parts from blueprints and other specifications. Wiregrass offers the program as a diploma or degree. Machine Tool also qualifies for the Georgia HOPE Career Grant. If students qualify for the Georgia HOPE or Zell Miller Grant, they qualify for Career Grant which provides additional monies that covers tuition, books and/or fees leaving graduates with little or no college debt. The HOPE Career Grant is only offered on programs that Georgia leadership has identified as being in high demand.
Graduates of the program can look to start off making between $12 to $18 an hour. Wiregrass Machine Tool Instructor Darron Lanier added, “We are in contact with large companies that are needing machine toolist to make parts from cars to drill blushing. Graduates can find jobs anywhere in the United States after completing this course.” The associate degree program takes approximately two years to complete and has a 100% in-field job placement rate. The diploma and certificate programs range from a two semesters to a year to complete.
It’s time for students to consider careers in Industrial and Technical fields. “Students, high school age, college age and non-traditional now have such an awesome opportunity with this program. Once they learn the skills they are being recruited for great paying jobs with benefit packages and more,” shared Wilkes. To learn more about Machine Tool and other programs offered by Wiregrass Tech, visit Wiregrass.edu. The college will be accepting new students for Spring Semester which starts January 9, 2018.
Wiregrass is investing over $200,000 in brand new technology that will allow students to learn on the latest technology in the field.