Machine Distributor, High School Work to Address Skills Gap

Far beyond just supplying equipment, Compumachine has entered into a true partnership with Essex Technical High School that leverages the strengths of both organizations to educate future generations of manufacturers.

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I.C. Lee of Hyundai WIA (far left) looks on as Dan O'Connell, Essex High School Superintendant, and Dave Shaby, president of Compumachine (right) cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.

During a recent die/mold-focused event at Hyundai WIA’s Chicago-area facility, I got wind of a new effort in workforce development that struck me as unusual. One of the company's distributors, Compumachine, recently supplied 22 brand new machine tools to Essex Technical High School, but collaboration between the two Danvers, Mass. organizations didn’t stop there. The machine tool distributor and the school have entered into a renewable, five-year partnership arrangement designed to fully leverage the strengths of both organizations in educating future generations of manufacturers.

Under the terms of the agreement, the distributor gets full naming rights for the section of the school where the equipment is located. Dubbed the Compumachine Technology Center, the space serves not only as a resource for the school’s students, but also as an extension of the distributor’s own showroom and training facilities, says Dave Shaby, Compumachine president. The distributor is free to host customers and prospects there and to conduct its own activities, including customer support and training, nighttime adult-certification classes, and its annual open house event.

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The partnership provides Essex Technical High School students with access to a wide variety of the same sort of manufacturing equipment used in modern metalworking operations. 

The school, which opened last fall, gains ongoing access to support from Compumachine, which can help address any problems with equipment and keep educators up-to-date on the latest technology. The school also got a “terrific deal” on the new machinery, Shaby says, noting that cooperation from OEMs represented by Compumachine was critical to winning the competitive bid that led to the partnership. Technology on the floor includes VMCs and lathes from Hyundai WIA, Swiss-types from Hanwha, manual equipment from Victor and software from Mastercam, as well as FANUC CNC training simulators. The partnership also helps expose students to real-world manufacturing scenarios because their education will include helping with runoffs and prove-outs of new machines and processes for Compumachine and its customers.  

The grand opening ceremony, hosted November 20, attracted manufacturers from across the region, Shaby says, citing high demand for fresh talent. “I’d say there were nearly a hundred area shops in attendance—the turnout was huge,” he says. “They need qualified people, these kids are super motivated, and it’s great exposure for us. This is a win for everybody.”  

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