May 31 was “moving day” for the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), West Windsor, as faculty members in Mercer’s newest classroom received delivery of state-of-the-art equipment that will train students for the high-tech world of modern manufacturing. Groundbreaking for the laboratory was last August; the new facility will be ready to accept students for the fall semester.
Students in this A.A.S. program will earn a degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology. (A shorter-term certificate of proficiency is also offered, with credits that can be applied to the associate degree.)
According to Dom DeFino, MCCC professor of Electronics Engineering Technology, this training will prepare students for the modern manufacturing environment, a necessity as American manufacturers become increasingly reliant on the use of high-tech equipment that involves multiple, integrated systems. MCCC has the only facility of its kind in Mercer County, with the next closest facility located in Camden.
“It is crucial for manufacturing companies to recruit and employ individuals who know how to operate, troubleshoot, and maintain this equipment,” DeFino said, adding that students will develop skills for apprentice/entry-level positions in shops and manufacturing facilities not only in the local area but across the country.
The new equipment includes vertical and horizontal mills, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) mills, lathes, CNC lathes, drill presses, vertical and horizontal band saws, a surface grinder and a power press.
DeFino explains that students will first learn the fundamentals. “We will teach students to use the manual machines so they understand the machines’ capabilities and have the skills to run them. Then they will learn how to use CNC machines, which require students to write the computer programs that allow the machines to do the job,” he said.
CNC machines have major benefits, observes instructor Rich Vanderbilt. “They can repeatedly create complex parts accurately, no matter how large the quantity.”
The first course, which will be offered this fall, is Industrial Measurements (MET 122). Admission to the program requires a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and one year of algebra or applied mathematics.
The $1.2 million, 3,000-square-foot laboratory is the first major construction project on the West Windsor Campus since the Welcome Center was built in 2009. Funding for the project was made possible through the Building Our Future Bond Act, which was approved by New Jersey voters in 2012.Related Articles: