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CMCC dedicates new Gene Haas Precision Machining Technology Center

Precision Machining student Nicholas Kondax cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony. Looking on are (from l.) Kathy Looman of the Haas Foundation, Amy Landry of AVCOG, Alan Brigham of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Mark Scarano of the Northern Border Regional Commission, and Diane Dostie of CMCC.

Government, industry, and education officials joined Central Maine Community College students and staff members recently at a dedication ceremony for the official opening of the college’s new Gene Haas Precision Machining Technology Center.

Work began on the project in spring 2017. The first phase involved an interior renovation of over 5,000 square feet, including the relocation of the quality control room, offices, computer class, and locker room, to update and improve overall functionality. Phase Two was the construction of a 3,600 square-foot addition to accommodate recent equipment acquisitions and improvements to the existing electrical power distribution, lighting, and mechanical ventilation systems.

The Gene Haas Foundation awarded the college a grant of one million dollars toward the expansion project. Founded in 1999 by Haas Automation founder and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas, the Haas Foundation has granted more than $12 million to institutions that champion advanced manufacturing education and has been a generous supporter of the PMT program and machinist-based continuing education at CMCC.

In addition to the Haas donation, the college secured a grant of $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Officials from the EDA have noted that the project is a timely one given that, not only do many companies use the machining center at CMCC for employee training and access to specialized equipment, but area employers also expect to need an additional 900 precision machinists in the next five years.

The college also received a grant of $250,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission as part of $2 million in funding the NBRC has provided to upgrade infrastructure and support the delivery of job-training skills across the state. The NRBC is a federal-state partnership Congress created in 2008 to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private-sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

“The expansion of the PMT facility will enable the program to build on the significant accomplishments funded previously under two grants totaling 2.3 million dollars from the National Science Foundation,” noted Scott Knapp, president of CMCC. Those efforts resulted in the creation of a “virtual collaboration infrastructure,” an environment in which both design and precision machining students work in concurrent or virtual product design and development; and the development of curricula for 3D machining and CNC machining that address industry needs in high-end skills that are directly applicable to the precision manufacturing environment.

Richard Bolding, chair of the PMT program at the College, noted that skilled graduates are in high demand and many of them have jobs by the end of their first year on campus. “The expansion of the PMT program will help support the growth of good-paying, high technology jobs in the region and throughout the state,” Bolding added.

The largest such program in the Northeast, the PMT program at CMCC offers a two-year associate in applied science degree, a one-year certificate, and an advanced certificate. Students are trained in conventional and CNC (computer numeric control) machining. Graduates of the program are employed as machine operators, CNC machinists, tool and die makers, quality control inspectors, machine assemblers, machine tool designers, CNC programmers, and field service representatives.

For more information about Precision Machining Technology at CMCC, contact Richard Bolding at 755-5307 or rbolding@cmcc.edu,  or visit the college website at www.cmcc.edu.

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