ATC program earns national recognition

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Accreditation gives students instant credibility upon graduation

By Ashley Sutter

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills recently announced the accreditation of the Computerized Manufacturing and Machining Program at the Shelby County Area Technology Center.

Formed in 1994 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive workforce, NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.

Their accreditation, the highest benchmark possible for an American metalworking training program, was awarded following an extensive review, which revealed the faculty and staff meets the quality standards set fourth by NIMS.

Achieving such accreditation does not come easy – only 168 programs across the nation have earned such recognition.

ATC Principal Steve Coleman said he was excited for the accreditation and noted earning such goes well beyond pencil and paper.

“It’s not just sitting down and taking a test,” he said. “Our students have to produce six products based on plans NIMS provides. They have to show their skills.”

But Coleman said they plan to take the process a step further.

“We are going to bring in an authentic audience from local industries and have the students explain what they did during the process of fabricating this piece,” he said.

Coleman said in doing so, students will better understand their work and it will also get them face to face with possible future employers.

“It gets business and industry into our building and classrooms.  They also get to see what’s going on in our school.   They can then give us some suggestions on our programs and hopefully these are their future employees,” he explained.

Ray Leathers, president and CEO of Roll Forming, said he was happy to learn about the program’s accreditation.

“At Roll Forming Corporation we employ more than 50 engineers and technicians in some form of metalworking and machining.  We are excited that the Metalworking Skills Computerized Manufacturing and Machining Program at Shelby County Area Technology Center is now fully accredited by the National Institute for Metalworking,” he said.

“The ever evolving metalworking industry in which we participate is driving the need for increasing numbers of higher skilled craftsmen every day. Employers like Roll Forming see this as a pipeline for technicians with advanced capabilities that will become qualified members of the future workforce.

“This program is key to developing the Advance Manufacturing capabilities we need to push Kentucky forward in the increasingly competitive world of high-technology industry.”

Coleman said the national accreditation would reflect well on their graduating students.

“When our students earn it and graduate from our program, it gives them instant credit when they are job searching or putting it on their application.”

Mike Hesketh, president of Superb IPC shared the enthusiasm for the program’s achievement.

“Having a Machine Tool Tech Program in our Shelby County Schools that is fully accredited by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills is extremely beneficial to our industries because programs that meet this standard demonstrate that they have an excellent instructor and curriculum that are providing students a solid foundation for their understanding and continued skill development,” he said.

“Our city and county governments, industrial community and school system are working together to create a program that will provide a complete pathway for the our children to develop the skills to work in our advanced manufacturing at local industries where they can be financially independent and secure.

“We are truly blessed to have a school system so dedicated to aligning their efforts with ours in their effort to make education create a successful, coordinated program.  Mr. Coleman is demonstrating great leadership, and we are thankful to see this high quality education and training being provided so early in students’ career path.”

CMM Instructor Mike Strait’s hard work has quickly paid off, Coleman said, explaining that the heavy workload on top of a new position was a lot to handle.

“Last year he was a first year teacher,” he explained.  “So he already had a lot on his plate. He had to go through the process as well, he had to become an accredited staff member.  He already had so much to learn to begin with, so I applaud him for taking this on and accomplishing it.”