Machinist Training Attracts Students from Wide Area

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- A record 33 students are enrolled in the 2008 entering class of the Machinist Technology Program (MTP) offered by the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI). This represents an 83 percent increase from the 2007 figure, RCBI Director and CEO Charlotte Weber announced. Most are enrolled in the associate degree program provided in cooperation with Marshall Community and Technical College and Potomac State College of West Virginia University. All will work toward achieving their national certification from the National Institute for Metal Working Skills.

The 2008 class, upon its graduation, will bring the total number entering the West Virginia labor market to close to 250 highly skilled machinists. More than 90 percent of the graduates to date have begun careers in industry.

Those students completing the program are expected to find an array of career opportunities open to them since there is a national shortage of machinists estimated at more than 30,000.

“We’re excited about the growth in our Machinist Technology Program,” Ms. Weber said. “Manufacturers throughout our region have a great need for additional machinists to compete both nationally and on a global basis. We’re gratified that RCBI is in a position to help them meet that demand.”

In fact, RCBI has hired additional instructors with an eye toward continuing growth in the program.

The machinists-to-be are in training at RCBI Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers in Huntington, Bridgeport and Rocket Center. Most of those in Huntington and Bridgeport are enrolled through Marshall Community and Technical College, while most at Rocket Center are enrolled through nearby Potomac State College of WVU at Keyser.

Enrollment in the associate degree programs enables students to apply for student financial aid.

Although most of the students come from throughout West Virginia, the RCBI program attracts students from nearby communities in Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Those coming from distant communities are eligible to live in residence hall rooms at Marshall University or Potomac State College.

The RCBI program is the only one in the state providing opportunities to earn both an associate degree and national certification by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), Ms. Weber said. The coupling of the associate degree and national certification prepares students to advance into machining work and also helps them advance into more sophisticated manufacturing work, Ms. Weber noted.

Those wishing additional information may visit www.rcbi.org or call program recruiter Larry Cartmill at (304) 781-1678.