For three weeks, the Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing Center at Meridian Community College serves as the site for a unique teaching-the-teachers session.
“MCC was selected as the location for this special summer Haas Technical Education Center Teacher Training session due to the Gene Haas Center, the advanced technology and the cooperation of Brian Warren to conduct the classes,” said Toni Neary, director of education at Haas Tower. Warren is program coordinator of Precision Machining and division chair of Industrial Technology at MCC and co-teaches the session.
The classes focus on introducing CNC Mill I and presenting an overview of the UMC 500 five-axis machine. Neary added teachers participating are from Louisiana Technical College Systems, and there are a few Mississippi high school instructors.
The 10,500 square-foot Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing Center, located on Highway 19 North in MCC’s Workforce Development Center, features classrooms, lab space and state-of-the-art computer-aided design and CNC machining equipment. It is considered one of the best-advanced precision manufacturing education facilities in the state. The new lab features a five-axis Haas UMC500SS, a Haas ST-30Y turning center with Y-axis and live tooling, a Tsugami B0205 Swiss-style CNC lathe, a Zeiss CMM, and seven other CNC machines, along with numerous manual lathes, mills, drill presses, band saws and other equipment.
Bob Nash, CNC training and HTEC instructor from Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana, is the primary instructor and has come to the MCC campus for this three, five-day-a-week training program. “The State of Louisiana purchased several of these machines, so we’re here to train the teachers how to use the CNC machines so they can go back and teach in their schools,” Nash said.
He explained that some schools already have machining programs, so some instructors are on the MCC campus to learn the new software. Some of the other teachers have never been around the CNC machines, Nash said. “So, it’s a completely new program for them.”
Warren noted that training opportunities such as this usually occur at Vincennes University or a few other select locations, but this is the first time Mississippi has served as a site.
Fourteen teachers are participating in the sessions – which have been divided into three one-week terms. “You can learn some of this from video, but it’s important to get in front of a machine, ease the nerves by getting used to the machine, having somebody to ask questions and walk through step-by-step to make a part,” Nash said.
Warren said the small group instruction offers plenty of one-one instructor time for each student. “There are three projects that the students will complete, and the goal is for the instructors to be able to go back to their schools and confidently program and operate their new machines.”
The students are learning how to quickly and safely set up a five-axis machine to make three-axis parts. “This will give the instructors a solid foundation to build their coursework around as they learn and grow with the new technology. We hope to be able to bring them back at a later date to cover the more advanced aspects and capabilities of Haas five-axis CNC machining,” Warren said.
Neary said, “The Gene Haas Foundation is generously covering the tuition for these teachers in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Community and Technical College system.”
Warren added the classes were made possible by generous grants from the Gene Haas Foundation. MCC received $30,000 in last month to cover the expenses in hosting the teacher training.
Bossier Parish Community College Instructor Lamont Lackman, one of the students in the first session, said it was good to be on the other side of the desk learning new material to share with his students. “It’s been very educational. I know more about it now than when I started.”