16-week program prepares machinists to meet demand for skilled workers

Paul Ewert makes $13.50 an hour as an intern at Triumph Structures in Grandview, MO. CIMM program interns receive between $12.50 and $13.50 an hour depending on attendance and grades.

On March 3, 2013, Paul Ewert had zero experience with machining. On March 4, he began taking classes in Computer Integrated Machining and Manufacturing (CIMM) at MCC-Business & Technology. Ten weeks later, Paul was machining airplane parts at Triumph Structures, an aerospace manufacturer in Grandview, Mo.

Ewert is one of 17 students enrolled in the CIMM training, a new program that immerses students in the basics of lathe or mill operation for ten weeks, followed by a six-week paid internship at one of 27 local companies.

The CIMM program was established to help meet the local demand for skilled machinists: Missouri is home to about 7,000 manufacturers and there are more than 2,500 in the Kansas City area alone. The program was developed based on employment needs of the MCC Manufacturing Consortium, a group of 27 local manufacturers that advises on curriculum development and provides six-week paid internships to students.

The program is expected to generate more than 40 skilled machinists every year for companies like Triumph Structures that need high-skilled workers to run their high-tech machinery.

“Triumph is a 30 million-dollar-a-year company and we are on pace to be a 50 million-dollar-a-year company in five years,” said Chris Gable, plant manager at Triumph Structures.  “That is why it is so important to have well prepared interns, like Paul, joining this industry. It takes a lot of skill, and a lot of trust on the part of the employer, to run a three million dollar machine.”

David Godfrey, who supervises Ewert’s hands-on training at Triumph, has been impressed with Ewert’s skills.

“Within the first two hours of his internship, I gave Paul a set of prints and pointed him to a machine to see what he knew,” said Godfrey.  “I was amazed!  Although I supervised very closely, he was able to do the set-up, machine the part, and check the quality.  Paul is now working with some of our computer controlled machines and has really proven his desire to learn.”

Ewert stands next to a manual mill in the CIMM lab at MCC-Business & Technology. Students in the program learn about both manual and computer controlled machining.

Paul, a military veteran, had planned to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering from UMKC after leaving the Army. But he changed course after visiting the MCC-Business & Technology campus.

“After graduating from Blue Springs North High School, I joined the Army and served as a bassoon player in the Army band for six years,” Ewert said.  “I was enrolled at UMKC shortly after leaving the Army and took three semesters of classes before I started rethinking my career path.”

To earn a UMKC engineering degree, all students are required to take three, one-credit-hour lab classes at MCC-Business & Technology, which cover topics like shop safety, basic welding, and basic machining. These classes are required by UMKC to ensure graduating engineers have an understanding of the manufacturing process.

“During a trip to research my required class at MCC-Business & Technology I met [CIMM program coordinator] David Grady and instantly became interested in this program,” Ewert said.  “Although it was a big decision to leave UMKC and start at MCC, I knew on the first day of class that I had made the right choice.”

Ewert plans to work in the manufacturing industry for a few years while continuing to take higher-level machining classes at MCC. His long-term goal is still to earn a mechanical engineering degree.

Learn more about the CIMM program and see a list of MCC Manufacturing Consortium partners here.