First CNC Machinist NOW Class Graduation

December 20, 2013
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 0 comments

Putting Veterans to Work as CNC Machinists

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University scored a resounding win with the new CNC Machinist NOW program, 100 percent graduation and placement rate.

The Veterans Administration approved program targets military veterans and adult learners to enter careers as CNC machinists, a career in high demand. Following 16-weeks of training at VU, the first class graduated December 20 and was immediately employed at Stark Industries/JWS Machine, Terre Haute.

"To be able to have someone go through a program like this and come to us definitely with the basics helps us, because we can put those people right to work," said Darrel Zeck director of Business Development at Stark Industries. “The fact that those employees are veterans is an added bonus, since they are dedicated to work, attention to detail, and all of those things that are taught in any branch of the Armed Forces.”

The curriculum is a combination of machining theory and extensive hands-on training. The duration of the training is 16 weeks at 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, or about 600 hours. The program is design specifically to meet the needs of the military veteran, the adult learner, and CNC machining companies. The curriculum is designed as an accelerated program of study around industry recognized NIMS credentials based on skills needed for a career in CNC machining and manufacturing.

“The program is an opportunity that is beyond spectacular. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. Going into training already having the job—and the employer helping you get through the training—you can’t ask for better than that. I thank everyone who put this together,” said Kenneth L. Isaacs, an Army veteran who has a wife and two children. Isaacs is one of the 16 graduates now employed at Stark Industries.

The CNC Machinist NOW Program runs three times per year with starting dates in early January, May and September each year. Classes run from 12:30 to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

"What we've done through this program is match up a population of people that has a higher than average unemployment rate, who are also great employees, with a set of employers who have a need for trained employees," said David Tucker, VU Vice President for Workforce Development.

The training takes place in the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) CNC Training Center that is housed in the Indiana Center for Applied Technology building on the VU Campus in southwestern Indiana.

“I am grateful for the privilege to teach military veterans the skills they need to begin a successful career, said Doug Bowman, director of HTEC. “I am very impressed by their dedication, reliability and enthusiasm. I feel like the CNC Machinist NOW program is really making a difference in the lives of our students and their families, and in the companies where they go to work.”

Initiated by members of the Advisory Committee for HTEC and Bowman, the quick success of the program has been praised by officials seeking to address Indiana’s skills gap. “The CNC Machinist NOW program is a tremendous example of what we can achieve when local, state and federal agencies collaborate with higher education institutions and the private sector,” said U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon, R-Evansville, who spoke at the Dec. 20 graduation ceremony. “I look forward to watching this program grow and hope to be a part in the success of future students.”

The CNC Machinist NOW Program was developed to address two very specific challenges: the shortage of skilled CNC Machinists, and the high unemployment rate among military veterans. The accelerated schedule is designed specifically for adult learners that need to learn skills quickly and get to work to support themselves and their families. It also takes advantage of the fact that veterans generally make excellent employees, and that machining companies generally seek out veterans for their employees.

The training is delivered using a modern, blended approach. Traditional teacher-lead lectures are combined with on-line training available 24-7. Haas simulators are used for manual programming exercises, laptop computers are used for manual and Mastercam programming, and 15 full size Haas CNC machines are used in the shop to machine projects with one to two students per machine.

“Vincennes University’s CNC Machinist NOW program is not only inventive but spot on for what is needed by industry today. To have a program that offers opportunities for our military veterans to learn CNC Machining with the promise of an outstanding career is priceless,” said David L. Tucker, president, Haas Midwest Manufacturing Resources, Inc., one of the corporate partners backing the program.

The HTEC facility at VU is NIMS Accredited and features 15 Haas CNC machines, 12 Haas Simulators, and manual machines. Partners include Haas Automation, Sandvik, Mastercam, Save Our Veterans, Immerse2Learn, Renishaw, Chick Workholding, SGS Tools, Quality Mill Supply, Clodfelter Engineering, Calculated Industries, Fastenal, Rego-Fix, Wallover, and many more companies.


Vincennes University, founded in 1801, is Indiana’s first college and is Indiana’s premier transfer institution and leader in innovative career programming. The VU community ensures educational access, delivers proven associate, baccalaureate and training programs, and offers cultural opportunities and community services in a diverse, student-centered, collegiate environment.

Doug Bowman
ph: 812-888-4159


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