Midlands Tech Makes the Mold for Smithsonian Museum Event

When faced with a shortfall of educational parts for an exhibit in the 2016 National Week of Making, the Smithsonian Museum turned to Midlands Technical College (MTC) for a solution.

“The Smithsonian needed several parts that were reverse engineered from famous inventions,” said Alan Grier, MTC program coordinator for machine tool and mechatronics. “One was a solenoid (electromagnet) that was used in many inventions, including the Morse telegraph.”

MTC machine tool students designed and made the mold for the solenoid spool to be used in the event. “We are lucky. Our shop has all the advanced equipment to make complex tooling like injection molds,” Grier said.

After the mold was complete, MTC students produced 2,000 of these parts on MTC’s 75-ton plastic injection molding machine. Grier drove the parts to Washington, D.C. just in time for the Smithsonian event, which was developed to celebrate makers across the U.S. and empower participants of diverse ages and backgrounds to explore opportunities to innovate, create and build.

“The event was amazing,” said Grier. “There were hundreds of students learning, having fun and building inventions using what MTC provided.”

In addition to students and educational officials, about 2,000 members of the public attended the museum event and viewed the exhibits MTC helped create.

“Opportunities like this show young people how valuable industrial skills can be and the broad variety of career options that are available,” said Alan Clayton, MTC department chair for industrial technology. “They get interested in the hands-on nature of the technologies, and it’s really important for people to see how these skills can turn into a great career with the right kind of training.”

To learn more about the diverse programs within the MTC Industrial Technology department, visit www.midlandstech.edu.

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Filling Workforce Needs: Spartanburg Community College Develops New Programs for Process Control and Composites Technicians

Spartanburg Community College (SCC) is pleased to announce the start of a new certificate in process control technology provided through its Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies (CAMIT). This program serves as a complement to the high-demand mechatronics program. It offers students a different set of skills opening them up to new opportunities in automated manufacturing not previously addressed by other programs.

Process control technicians have a different skillset related to the control of pressure, flow, temperature, level, pH, humidity, conductivity and chemical reactions. Demand for people with these skills in South Carolina is greater than ever. This need has become even more evident as manufacturers like Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. move into the area.

SCC is working to meet the need in this critical area with the development of this new certificate program inspired by local experts in chemical processing as well as the many training groups along the gulf coast that serve the petroleum industry. In fact, these groups have written most of the books on the topic. The program will tap new instructors along with the latest technologies based on current best practices in the industry. It is set to launch in Fall 2017 with a goal of growing into a complete associate degree offering.

Additionally, the inclusion of process technology into SCC’s programs of study has generated a great opportunity to begin the first coursework at the college centered on composite materials manufacturing. SCC is presently working on facility renovations that will provide for instruction in both process technology and composite manufacturing with emphasis on carbonization and vacuum infusion processes. They are also coordinating with the American Composite Manufacturers Association (ACMA) to offer student certifications in vacuum infusion and basic composite competencies as part of their Certified Composites Technicians (CCT) program.

ACMA has already provided SCC with training materials and other resources to ensure instructors are up-to-date with the full breadth of local composite manufacturing practices. “ACMA’s CCT program addresses our industry’s clear need for uniform training and technical skills,” said Tom Dobbins, president of ACMA. “By partnering with Spartanburg Community College, we hope our CCT program will give students the tools they need to succeed in vacuum infusion jobs all throughout South Carolina and beyond.”

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Michelin Manufacturing Scholars Program: Designing Tomorrow’s Workforce, Today

Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) and Michelin North America are launching a pilot Manufacturing Scholars Program designed to build and grow a highly skilled workforce.

“We are excited to launch our pilot of the Michelin Manufacturing Scholar program alongside our Tri-County Technical College partners,” said Melanie McLane, facility personnel manager for Michelin’s manufacturing facilities in Anderson County.

The new program is designed for entry-level manufacturing professionals and is a pathway leading to manufacturing careers with Michelin North America. The one-semester program is completely customized to meet the needs Michelin has for qualified entry-level manufacturing professionals at their two plants in TCTC’s service area. It includes a nine-credit-hour certificate in manufacturing and paid work hours each week at Michelin for hands-on experience. The program will begin Fall 2017.

“It is about broadening the concept of our current Michelin Technical Scholar program - expanding it by doing something new and different for manufacturing professionals while building our community and ensuring our growth,” explained McLane.

“Michelin’s ambition is to establish similar programs at other technical colleges in proximity to our sites around the state,” she added. “The expansion and further deployment potential have been a part of the overall vision as we have worked to create a program that is sustainable and expandable.”

As for the long term prospects of the program, McLane said, “Ultimately, we have a simple goal: we want to develop the workforce of the future.”

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