More students seeking technical training at CMU

More Colorado Mesa University students are seeking technical training to enter the manufacturing trades this year compared with 2012, CMU assistant technical professor Bill McCracken said.

So far this fall, McCracken is overseeing about 60 students who are taking his Introduction to Manufacturing class, a 16 percent increase compared with fall 2012.

CMU students who graduate with a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree in applied science can expect to find entry level employment with a Mesa County manufacturing company, McCracken said.

This is true, in part, because many area manufacturers have representatives on the CMU manufacturing advisory council, he said.

“The council is made up of folks from local industry. They are our business partners,” McCracken said. “We have two meetings a year. They let us know what their needs are, what the skill set is that they need particular to their industry. They approve our curriculum. Any changes we make in our curriculum have to go through (the council).”

A virtual jobs program, McCracken said his students are able to find work at many of the area’s largest manufacturers, including Lewis Engineering, C5 Medical Werks, Capco, Leitner-Poma, Reynolds Polymer, TDM Machine Shop and Western Slope Industries, among others.

“My students get the fundamentals of automated and manual machining and they go out to work in local manufacturing shops and machine shops,” he said.

Potential students should exhibit strong math skills, which includes a grasp of basic algebra, basic trigonometry and basic geometry. Remedial math classes are available and McCracken teaches the basics to those who struggle during the course of his manufacturing classes.

“The beauty of the math is that they see what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a tactile activity where the algebraic formula makes sense because they have to figure out algebraically and through trig what kind of part they’re going to make.”

Wages are a little bit lower in Mesa County than in other parts of the country, but average about $24.47 per hour, McCracken said.

“For a 30-hour, entry level position, they’re starting from $12 to $17 an hour, but if they’re worth their weight and they know their trade, they can move up very, very quickly,” he said.


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