INA, Ill. (July 26, 2013) – In the span of just one year, a new Machine Technology lab has emerged from what used to be a storage room at Rend Lake College, and two updated occupational certificates are ready for students looking to enter the workforce.
This spring, a workshop in the Vocational Building was equipped with a dozen manual lathes and milling machines, and thanks to grant money from the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) and additional college funding, several new CNC (computer numerical control) machines have been brought to the workshop over the summer for students’ use this fall.
“The manual equipment is older, and we moved it to its workshop last fall. Most of it was found as second-hand pieces from high schools that had dropped machine classes and they weren’t using them anymore. We invested about $30,000 in the manual machines, but they would cost a lot more if bought new,” said Chris Nielsen, Dean of Applied Science.
The new machines will be used by students looking to earn a Basic Machining Certificate or Advanced Metalworking Certificate.
“Our philosophy is we will teach you how to use the manual machine before we turn you loose on the automatic machine,” said Nielsen. “We’ve added CNC classes to the Basic Machining Certification and a new one to the Advanced Metalworking Certificate.”
The new machines include a CNC Mini Mill, a CNC Plasma Cutter, a CNC Router and a Laser Cutter. The plasma cutter will cut through nearly an inch of steel with a torch, whereas the router can cut through up to five inches of foam, wood or aluminum. The mini mill can be used for production of materials and the other pieces can make prototypes.
Matt Jackson, IGEN Curriculum Coordinator, added that the new machines will be using Mastercam software.
“We’ll be able to let several different programs use it, like Architecture and Graphic Design, in addition to the machining courses. For example, the plasma cutter can be used for scale mock-ups in architecture,” said Jackson. “We can use reclaimed pieces and parts for use on the machines, so we don’t have to order pieces. We’ll be able to do everything in-house and build pieces for green structures.”
Nielsen added that students who train on the new machines will be able to use their skills for employment at local machining companies, such as Magnum Steel Works in Mt. Vernon.
In the Basic Machining Certification, students must fulfill 20 credit hours of work designed for those seeking to improve their skills for the machining industry by learning the fundamentals about lathes and milling machines.
In the Advanced Metalworking Certification, students must fulfill 19 credit hours of work. This certificate is designed for students who are seeking to improve their skills for the metalworking industry by learning skills in welding, machining and layout processes.
IGEN was launched in 2008 as a president-led consortium of all 48 Illinois community colleges dedicated to the training and education of a green workforce and deployment of energy conservation and green technology. With financial support from the Illinois Governor's Office, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy, IGEN works continuously to leverage the strengths and contributions of individual colleges to benefit all institutions within the Illinois Community College System.
For more information, contact the Rend Lake College Applied Science and Technology Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1261, or visit online at www.rlc.edu/asat.