Donation provides access to state-of-the-art technology for students

Anoka Technical College students in the machine technology programs will soon have access to state-of-the-art training software thanks to a gift from Gibbs and Associates and Midwest CAM Solutions.

Recognizing the major donation were (from left) Cheryl Kish, Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation Director; Kent Hanson, Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College President; Rich Lord, Spokesman for Midwest CAM Solutions and Gibbs and Associates; Verne McPherson, Anoka Technical College Foundation Vice President and CEO of Tolerance Masters.

Recognizing the major donation were (from left) Cheryl Kish, Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation Director; Kent Hanson, Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College President; Rich Lord, Spokesman for Midwest CAM Solutions and Gibbs and Associates; Verne McPherson, Anoka Technical College Foundation Vice President and CEO of Tolerance Masters. Photo submitted

The gift, valued at $559,000, will allow every machine technology student to train with GibbsCAM educational CNC programming software, which is widely used in the industry today. CNC machining is a process in the manufacturing sector that uses computers to control machine tools.

In presenting the gift, Richard Lord, spokesperson for Midwest CAM Solutions and Gibbs and Associates, said: “As a leader in the CAM industry, Gibbs and Associates is committed to furthering education for inspiring students in manufacturing.

“We are confident that our state-of-the-art GibbsCAM software will enhance your students’ learning experience and understanding of programming for CNC machines,” Lord said. “GibbsCAM will assist Anoka Technical College students’ research and prepare them for a variety of careers in manufacturing across all industries. It is an honor to support Anoka Technical College with this resource and we look forward to your students’ success.”

Sherry Butcher Wickstrom, Anoka Technical College’s dean of academic affairs, said: “Our graduates in the machine trades already are in demand. This generous gift will ensure that our machine technology students have additional skills, knowledge and practical experience that will leave them even better prepared for a successful future. And, in turn, Anoka Technical College will help manufacturing grow and prosper in Minnesota.”

Machinists are skilled metal workers who produce metal parts by using machine tools and hand tools. Training and experience enable the machinist to plan and carry through all the operations needed to turn out a finished machine product and to switch readily from one kind of product to another.

This donation, the second largest in Anoka Technical College’s history, will directly impact the manufacturing skills gap as identified by the Minnesota Department of Education. According to DEED, manufacturing matters more than ever. The sector accounts for 13 percent of Minnesota’s private sector jobs and almost 15 percent of the private sector’s output yet 45 percent of manufacturing businesses in the state indicate a shortage of qualified workers. Further, the same 2011 DEED survey indicated that businesses need employees with more training in computer skills, and that technical schools, such as Anoka Technical, provided the most effective education and training.

The Anoka Technical College Machine Trades program offers several diplomas, degrees and certificates to train skilled metal workers who produce metal parts by using machine tools, hand tools and CNC machines, working in machine shops, tool rooms and factories. They include a two-year associate in applied science degree in CNC manufacturing technology, a one-year CNC machinist diploma, a one-year machinist diploma and an advanced certificate in multi-axis machining.

Employment of machinists and tool and die makers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median salary for a machinist which includes CNC machinists, was $39,910 a year in 2010, the bureau reported.

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