[SPOKANE, Wash.] All around the Spokane area, demand for skilled workers has increased, while people in the trades have decreased. Spokane Community College is trying to pump out the next generation of skilled labor with the help of some extensive training and generous donors.
SCC’s Machinist/CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Technology program will host high school juniors and seniors for two days as part of the Production & Manufacturing Institute’s 18-day academy. The academy is an intensive program for students to explore manufacturing careers. High school credit will be offered as well as a stipend for full completion of the training.
Students will be at SCC on July 17 and 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in SCC Building 28, Room 122. They will learn the basics of CNC programming, setup and operation. They will also learn basic inspection and quality control techniques.
SCC’s CNC/Machining Instructor Sam Tevis believes the Institute is beneficial for both the students and the Spokane community.
“Participating in the Production & Manufacturing Institute provides the students with a great opportunity to get a small preview of what they can learn in SCC’s Machinist/CNC Technology program and the job opportunities that are in high-demand in the Spokane region,” he said.
The Institute is sponsored by several local businesses, including Wagstaff. Inc.; Mackay Manufacturing; Pearson Packaging Systems; and Career Connect Washington.
Another generous donation is helping transform the lives of SCC machining students. A gift of $70,000 was granted to the CCS Foundation to equip every first-year student who enrolls in the college’s two-year program with new tools and rolling toolboxes that they will use in classes and future jobs. The tool-and-toolbox sets cost roughly $3,000 each.
The Blevins family and H&H Molds worked with CCS Foundation team and Executive Director Heather Beebe-Stevens to help devise an innovative approach that would allow the students to use a set of tools while learning their future trade over the two-year course of study. Upon graduation, the tools will be gifted to them by the Foundation. This means that every student in the program over the next two years can benefit from the generosity of the Blevins family and H&H Molds. Burke and Muriel Blevins have a long history of financially supporting higher education and regularly partner with the CCS Foundation. They are challenging business owners in the community to match their gift dollar-for-dollar.
The concept is a win-win for the students and businesses. It means a uniform set of tools can be used by the students during their studies, and they will be able to immediately use the tools at their jobs.
“We can’t say enough about Burke and Muriel’s efforts to assist those in the machining program. We would be eager to work with others in the community who are inspired by the Blevins’ gift to help them also make a transformational donation,” Beebe-Stevens said.
Burke Blevins noted that while students come out of community colleges with less debt, the cost of buying their own set of tools upfront can be a challenge. The goal is to remove one of the largest barriers entering the program, which can be difficult for students without resources.
“As I've learned over the last few years in our association with the community colleges, the machinist program has a fantastic curriculum, but it's not fully enrolled,” Blevins said. “A set of tools costs about the same as a year of school. So, as we looked at this, and we thought: ‘Wouldn't it be nice if everybody had their own set of tools and a toolbox when they walked in the door?’”
Blevins said this funding effort wouldn’t have been possible without the supportive leadership of Community Colleges of Spokane Chancellor Kevin Brockbank (former President of SCC) and the creative thinking and execution by the CCS Foundation leadership team.
“Burke and Muriel have always been amazing to work with, and their gift to the SCC machining program will change the lives of the next generation of students in our program,” Beebe-Stevens said.
For more information or to schedule an interview on the Production & Manufacturing Institute, contact Strategic Communications Manager Rachel Román at Rachel.Roman@ccs.spokane.edu. For more information on the CCS Foundation donation, contact Executive Director Heather Beebe-Stevens at H.Beebe-Stevens@ccs.spokane.edu.
CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.