April 22, 2024

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LCC CNC team advances in national competition

4 min read
LCC and 15 other qualifying teams will face off live over two days at regional sites. The top qualifiers from the three regions will be invited to the national championship, where they will compete for a share of $150,000 in total prizes.

from Lane Community College and staff reports

A Lane Community College team has successfully qualified for the regional competition of the prestigious Project MFG National Advanced Manufacturing Competition, making LCC the only school from Oregon and one of only 16 of 80 participating schools to advance in the competition.

Jesse Nash, Alex Perry, and Isiac Torres, students in Lane’s Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Machining and Inspection program, demonstrated exceptional skill and determination in earning their place in the regionals.

In the qualifying round, Lane team members showcased their proficiency in 3-axis CNC milling of a plastic injection mold and welding a pressure vessel.

Now, as they move forward to the regionals in February, they will face a two-day challenge involving CAM programming, 5-axis CNC milling, TIG welding of aluminum, and reverse engineering.

For the national championship, four of the most skilled student teams in the trades will compete for the title of Project MFG National Champion and the $100,000 prize. The competition is designed to reflect the advanced manufacturing workplace and requires the production of a final product.

“This competition not only provides a platform for students to demonstrate their technical skills but also offers invaluable networking opportunities,” said Chuck Nickles, instructor for Lane’s CNC Manufacturing and Inspection Program.

“The connections made through this competition could open doors to unprecedented opportunities for these students,” he said. “Additionally, the competition has pushed each member of the team out of their comfort zones, compelling them to tackle challenging machining tasks with precision and innovation.”

Lane’s program, although relatively new, has already garnered attention for its focus on manufacturing processes involving complex machinery such as grinders, lathes, and milling machines.

As first-year students in the program, Nash, Torres, and Perry’s success underscores the effectiveness of Lane’s educational approach in preparing students for real-world challenges in the manufacturing industry.

The LCC Board of Education approved the Associate of Applied Science degree program in CNC Machining and Inspection in January 2023, to start with the 2023-2024 academic year.

The program focuses on the manufacturing processes involving programming software to control complex machinery such as grinders, lathes, and milling machines.

“The program answers the needs of local and national industries to fill the skills gap that currently exists,” explained LCC Associate Vice President for Career Technical Education and Workforce Development Grant Matthews.

“Manufacturing relies on innovation to ensure higher levels of productivity, efficiency and progress. Without skilled professionals with both the knowledge and hands-on experience, industries suffer with potentially negative impacts on the economy. The overall program is broader based and teaches students how to work with such technology across the board rather than very specific pieces of equipment,” he said.

Focusing on workforce development and innovative programs is not new for Lane Community College. The CNC Machining and Inspection program offers the associate of applied science degree, as well as multiple Career Pathway Certificates, experience with CNC machine set up and operation, hands-on work with production work of varying sizes, extensive CAD/CAM training and work, basic to cutting edge inspection training, reverse engineering training and practical application. It replaces the Advanced Manufacturing AAS curriculum by modernizing the program and adding new industry applicable courses.

Students take lecture classes along with hands-on practical application labs, ensuring critical skills and learning are assessed and trained to industry standards. When enrolled full time, a student can earn a degree in two years. A certificate can be earned in one year to be ready for immediate employment.

In addition to existing technology, classroom, and shop space, a state-of-the-art laboratory was constructed in the new Industry and Trades Education Center in Spring 2023.

“This new program reflects the changes in the industry and puts our students on a track to gain essential skills in a high-demand field,” LCC President Dr. Stephanie Bulger said. “We have worked with potential employers and partners to make sure this program is not just a fit but the right fit for employers.”

Project MFG designs and executes tournament-style competitions across the country to demonstrate the abilities of new talent and collectively inspire a movement to restore America’s industrial base. The Project MFG National Advanced Manufacturing Competition is a multi-round event designed to challenge participants in various aspects of advanced manufacturing.

During the regional rounds, teams face off live at one of three regional sites over two days in February 2024. Projects will be submitted and judged in March 2024. The top qualifiers will be invited to participate in the national championship at no cost to the teams.

The championship will be documented for Project MFG’s reality series, Clash of Trades. Check out last year’s national championship on Project MFG’s YouTube Channel.


Image courtesy LCC: Instructor Chuck Nickles (left) works with LCC Project MFG team member and first-year CNC student Isiac Torres in the new state-of-the-art lab in Lane’s new Industry and Trades Education Center. 

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