The Importance of Manual Machining in Education

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 3 comments

Machine shop programs in the K-14 school system in California are still closing at an alarming rate. I am still part of a dedicated group of professional educators attempting to keep programs open and expand SHOP in California schools.

What is needed at this time (and in fact for a long time) is a position statement from companies like HAAS on the importance of manual machining and hand skills in the basic preparation and training of students who wish to enter the field of hi tech manufacturing. These kinds of classes are being closed by administrators who are convinced that CNC machining should be the first exposure for students, and that such classes are too expensive in high school programs. They see manual machining as "old school" and of the World War Two era of education.

Can we work on this together?

John Chocholak, Cell 707-326-5324

Comments says:
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM
Why is manual machining experience important prior to learning CNC operations?
bskodzinsky says:
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Thanks for including me in the discussion, I thought I might weigh-in just a little on the topic, just in case it might be useful to someone. As you know the VU Precision Machining Technology program is still heavily geared towards building injection molds and progressive dies, however we are slowly, but surely transitioning the machining of many of the mold and die components more and more towards the CNC. Depending on where the class falls, the programs for the components may be generated by the students manually, or with Mastercam. At VU manual programming is taught prior to Mastercam. As far as manual machining goes, the entire first semester is dedicated to extensive manual machining at this time. The dies, molds, and CNC are introduced beginning with the second semester. Our first 16 week plus 8 week internship CNC machinist program is scheduled to begin September 3, 2013. It will provide a small amount of manual machining, but the bulk of the training will be geared to CNC. A number of NIMS credentials will be offered along with at least 1 Mastercam certification. The total training hours will be just under 600 plus the internship. This will be a good test of the manual vs CNC debate. The other factor that enters into this comparison is that the 16 week program will be focused on "non-traditional" students, with a special emphasis on Military Veterans, all recent high school graduates will be referred to our PMT program. As a side note, there will be a fair amount of manual machining taught on the CNC machines in this program. Our Advisory Committee(s) still advocates the teaching of manual machining skills, but the percentage of manual machine training is reducing and CNC is increasing. These two programs are driven by the needs of industry primarily in Indiana and the Midwest. Standardizing on the Haas control makes CNC training much more effective. Best Regards, Doug Bowman, Vincennes University
bskodzinsky says:
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Glad to hear you're still in the fight, as am I. Our next annual conference at NAIT, in July (see attached) is a good example of a school that starts with manual machining. They have 100 of them and then move toward CNC later. They are the premier machinist apprentice program in Canada. This is our 1st annual HTEC conference to be held in Canada. It's an outstanding program. They also have the largest investment in CNC in North America, over 40 Haas CNC machines. The manual vs. CNC education debate continues. I'm sure part of it has to do with the image manual machines portray, along with the fact that almost all of the employment opportunities in machining are for CNC operators, CNC machinists and programmers. That is also combined with the fact that most machining documentation and description today is digital, meaning CAD, both 2-D and 3-D models and methods are described in CAM models for tool path and tooling selection, speeds & feeds, etc. So much of how machining is described today fits the CNC model of making the part. Our network of educators is available to develop this topic with you and I can certainly help work with you to get that ball rolling. Having been part of those discussions with many high school teachers and their advisory groups, many have actively moved their programs toward full CNC. On the other hand, some excellent programs start with manual to build a foundation they believe to be important and then move to digital programs, teaching Solidworks, Mastercam and Haas CNC. In fact, at our annual conferences, the high school forum is an excellent place for you to participate. Two recent HTEC conferences last Fall, one at Laney College in Oakland, CA and Bates Technical College, in Tacoma, WA, are good examples of building foundations with manual machining. Bob Storrar at Bates and Louis Quindlen at Laney would agree with you. Dan Sunia would also agree. However, one very critical issue is the critical shortage of teachers, for both manual and CNC. I see it as one of the reasons many programs succumb, when the school can't or won't find a capable manual machinist to teach. Bob Skodzinsky,

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