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NMCC adds certificate program in computer numerical control to fulfill workforce need

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In fall 2020, Northern Maine Community College will launch a new certificate program it hopes will help students move quickly into the workforce and fulfill an ever-growing need for local and state manufacturing companies.

 

The nine-month certificate program in computer numerical control will be part of and utilize the same instructors and equipment as the college’s precision machining technology program. 

Computer numerical control operators utilize computer technology to load and unload machine parts, perform inspections, make adjustments to product parts and control machinery used for various tasks within a company. 

Northern Maine Community College is the second community college in Maine to offer a certificate that focuses on computer numerical control. Southern Maine Community College in Portland offers a similar program.

NMCC students Cameron MacCrae (left) and Nikolas White work in the college’s precision machining lab.  In fall 2020 NMCC will welcome its first students into a certificate program for computer numerical control. (Courtesy of Northern Maine Community College)

Although the current program involves courses in computer numerical control, students in the certificate program will focus exclusively on that form of technology to become qualified for entry-level jobs as control operators. Students will earn 36 college credits through the program.

Instructor Dean Duplessis noted that while students in his two-year precision machining technology program learn about manual and computer-based methods to produce precision parts for manufacturing products, having a program based solely on computer numerical control has become more crucial for workforce development.

“CNC is a subset of precision machining that has become more sophisticated in recent decades and the majority of manufacturing employers in the state are looking for workers with those skill sets,” Duplessis said. “Ninety percent or more of those companies in Maine utilize CNC technology.”

Among those companies, Duplessis said, are Smith and Wesson in Houlton, General Electric in Bangor, B&B Precise Products in Benton and Midstate Machine in Winslow, Maine. Graduates of the programs often begin careers with yearly salaries of $38,000.

Duplessis said the development of the program came out of the need to support manufacturers in Aroostook County and other areas of Maine in building and retaining their qualified workforce.

“This program will give students a chance to have a focused training on a skill set so they can enter the workforce and Maine businesses will have further opportunities to grow,” Duplessis said.

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