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CNC Operators Represent Manufacturing's High-Tech Future

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HOUSTON, September 13, 2012 — Computer numerically controlled machines, which are programmed to drill, cut and shape highly precise items, have to be run by CNC operators who have been properly trained to run them.

Houston Community College offers training for this field at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Institute.

It starts with a Level I certificate in Basic Machining Technology, followed by a Level II certificate in Intermediate Machining Technology, which leads to an associate degree in Applied Science in Machining Engineering Technology. This pathway allows students to complete basic training that gives them the opportunity to apply for entry-level positions in the field.

"We receive calls constantly from local employers, asking for an opportunity to interview our upcoming program graduates and to help them train incumbent workers," said Madeline Burillo, associate vice chancellor of Workforce Instruction. "At HCC we boil the broad world of computerized numerical control down to the two most common machine types: turning centers, which spin the material while the cutter is held stationary, and milling centers, which spin a cutting bit while the material is held stationary. Both of these machines work by cutting the raw material into a finished piece."

"Most of the CNC work in Houston today is done by these two types of machines. In addition, we cover additional important skills such as lean manufacturing skills," said Brian Nolen, machining instructor at HCC. "CNC machinery is deceptively easy to operate. To an onlooker the machines appear to run themselves. But they can't work at all without a trained operator, who understands how the machine works, and how it relates to the raw material being cut."

"A graduate of HCC's Machine Operations program will be ready for these jobs, because the understanding of turning and milling centers translates directly to the operation of a whole world of carving and forming machinery," said Roberto Sanchez, department chair for the HCC Advanced Manufacturing Technology Institute.

Source:, © 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.


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