Hurco, Indiana College Tackle the Skills Gap with New CNC Technology Center

Students, educators, and industry and business leaders joined Hurco Companies and Lincoln College of Technology to commemorate Manufacturing Day on October 4, with the grand opening of the Hurco CNC Technology Center at Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis, Ind., campus.

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Students, educators, and industry and business leaders joined Hurco Companies and Lincoln College of Technology to commemorate Manufacturing Day on October 4, with the grand opening of the Hurco CNC Technology Center at Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis, Ind., campus. The 5,000-sq-ft CNC machining facility is equipped with 10 brand-new Hurco CNC machining and turning centers.

“Our CNC technology is extremely beneficial to the classroom environment because the integrated control supports multiple ways to program parts,” Hurco President Greg Volovic said. “Today, manufacturing is about technology. It’s where skilled trades and technology meet, and Hurco CNC mills and lathes provide the technology piece that increases the value and relevance of the skills students learn.”

Lincoln President and COO Scott Shaw said, “We are excited to unveil the Hurco CNC Technology Center and for our students to have the opportunity to train on Hurco machines. Our CNC machining program will prepare students to join a growing and desirable industry as entry-level CNC operators or set-up technicians in today's modern manufacturing facilities. Opportunities for trained CNC machinists throughout Indiana are projected to increase 19 percent between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing career fields in the state.”

Several other business and industry leaders emphasized the need for more manufacturing education programs and the importance of changing misconceptions about careers in manufacturing.

William Turner, director of education and development at Allison Transmission, said many of the employees at Allison have worked there for 30+ years, and he needs to ensure there are qualified employees to fill the positions they will vacate in the future. He pointed out that a four-year bachelor’s degree isn’t the best path for all students, and education programs that focus on middle skills are critical to the success of companies like Allison.

According to Gabe Draper, owner of Draper Manufacturing and the president of the Indiana chapter of the National Tooling and Manufacturing Association (NTMA), an often-discussed topic at NTMA meetings is the adverse impact of the skills gap in Indiana, with so few qualified machinists available for employment. While most of his employees are trained machinists, he has hired some workers with no experience and helped them work their way up by training them on the job. In addition to individual motivation, Draper attributes much of their success to the user-friendly attributes of his Hurco CNC machine tools equipped with conversational programming, which he says is intuitive and easy to learn.

Brian Burton, vice president of the Indiana Manufacturers Association, echoed the importance of manufacturing in Indiana with a few statistics: one in five Indiana residents are employed by the manufacturing sector, nearly one-third of the state’s economy is generated by the manufacturing sector, and the average total wage (wages plus benefits) for manufacturing is more than $70,000/year.