Shoreline’s CNC Machinist program gets a 4.0 with its recent accreditation by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
“Getting this accreditation is really good news for our students,” said SCC’s CNC instructor Keith Smith. “With industry using the credentials to recruit, hire and promote machinists, and with few other programs in the state providing the NIMS stamp of approval, Shoreline students are ahead of the game.“
College officials and Smith, who has been at Shoreline for five years and worked as a machinist for 22, decided several years ago to pursue NIMS accreditation for the CNC program. Although students were receiving excellent training and education at Shoreline, Smith said he knew that the accreditation would provide nationally recognized skill sets that would set them apart in the job market.
The CNC Machinist program is involved with a number of innovative programs. The NIMS accreditation effort was already underway when the program received a grant that helped it expand the number of student slots. That grant is administered by the National Association of Manufacturers. The money also adds support for the students both in class and out on the job market.
The CNC Machinist training is also one of Shoreline’s designated Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (I-BEST) programs. I-BEST also adds in-class support for students needing help with English and basic education such as math and reading.
“It is wonderful getting these students into jobs that provide salaries that can support families,” David Cunningham, Dean of Workforce Education, said.
Smith said the I-BEST designation is a real asset to students. Now, students who need help with English and math can enter the program and get the one-on-one help they need with basic skills from one instructor and their machinist training from Smith.
“Before this was an I-BEST program, I was too busy in the classroom to find the time I needed to help one-on-one in the shop as often as I’d like,” Smith said. “Now we’ve got Chris (Lindberg) to help the students with their basic skills, freeing up time for me to work in the shop with students. It’s a win-win situation.”
Richard Stevens was one of the first Shoreline students to pass the exams, earning the Machining Level 1 NIMS credentials.
Susan Hoyne, Dean of Science, Mathematics and Manufacturing points out that the NIMS credentials could also help when the college lobbies for state funding. “We are asking for help supporting a population that really needs help at the same time we are asking for dollars to support our local economy – and they (local business) have already let us know they want our students,” Hoyne said.
Getting the accreditation was a lot of work, beginning with Smith going through a series of evaluations, including an intensive self study, a two-day site visit that included a safety and equipment inspection of the facility, and interviews with instructors, administrators, students, advisory committee members and local employers who hire Shoreline graduates.
After earning his NIMS certificate, Smith studied the curriculum requirements set by NIMS and embedded them into the college’s program. Smith made the necessary changes to align the CNC training with the same skills desired by employers.
The self-study included rating the SCC program against the NIMS quality measures. The benchmark areas included administrative support, instructional quality, curriculum, equipment, advisory council roles, safety and the integration of the national standards into college curriculum.
The two-day, on-site audit came next, conducted by a team of industry and education representatives. The team included Mark Lashinske, who owns a machine shop in Phoenix, along with Sean Blechschimdt from industry and Mike Clifton from Lake Washington Technical College. While here, they interviewed administrators, students, advisory council members and local industry leaders.
“It’s pretty obvious that our program and our instructors are respected across the board,” said Cunningham, referring to the positive comments by employers. “They really are impressed with our grads who work at their shops.”
Although students can earn a Certificate in Basic Manufacturing in just one quarter and move immediately into an entry-level job, Smith said the majority of students complete the CNC Machinist or the CNC Technology program, a three-quarter commitment.