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Industrial Tech program offers career training

by Darin Allred | Jan 08, 2016 <p> </p>

When the Career and Technology Center (CTC) opened at North Central Texas College, opportunities also opened up for students to receive training in high-demand fields like welding and heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) that could lead to high-paying jobs.

As NCTC has continued to add programs and more and more students are taking advantage of the training being offered, the college has had to build a new facility to meet demand.

Later this Spring, the Industrial Technology Center (ITC) will open across the parking lot from the CTC.

Construction is wrapping up now and a grand opening is being planned for March 11.

The new ITC will feature a 22-booth fundamental welding lab to complement the 16-booth lab currently located in the CTC.

"The new lab will contain a fab lab with a 12-foot overhead crane that allows us to bring in heavy fabrication and train students in what would actually be a plant environment," said Kenny Smith, the Chair for NCTC's Industrial Technology Department. "It is very unique. I don't know of anyone around that has one exactly like this. We will have a four-by-eight wet plasma cutting table in there. There will also be a new machining lab in the new building that will include five state-of-the-art CNC machines. We are trying to replicate what students will see out in the workforce. Two manual mills and two manual lathes were added as well. So we are training to the full spectrum of what the industry would like for us to train. We work closely with industry to see what they want us to train."

Machining is one of the fastest-growing areas of the NCTC Industrial Technology Department because of the demand for skilled workers.

"In the machining industry right now, we are probably a million machinists short of where we should be in this country," Smith said. "So that is a huge career field opening up also."

To help attract students to study machining, new scholarships will be available this Spring thanks to a generous donation from Haas Factory Outlet of Dallas. The company is donating $15,000 for scholarships specifically for machining students.

But machining, welding and HVAC are not the only programs NCTC offers. Industrial Mechanics is an exciting field that can lead to many different career paths.

"Our Industrial Mechanics program is really built around an electrical segment of the curriculum that is devoted to training in basic electricity, motor controls, and programmable logic controllers," Smith said. "It's a wonderful field and it's in huge demand. It's an occupation that is in large demand down in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of all the new home construction. I was visiting with a contractor the other day who had poured 200 foundations for new homes around Denton and Corinth, and he said they can't find enough electricians. So right now, electrical training is a wonderful field for someone to get into.

"Industrial Mechanics is also built around pneumatics, hydraulics, pumps and motor drives," Smith added. "I was visiting with the HR director at Peterbilt about a month ago, and that's the kind of training they look for in a prospective employee. They want someone that has those kind of mechanical skills, and that's what the program is built around. Couple that with the electrical side, and students are well prepared to fill a maintenance/mechanics position with a big organization like a hospital or school district, especially in today's economy where we are just booming from Denton to Dallas."

This past year, the college moved the Industrial Technology programs from Lifelong Learning to the academic side, meaning students now receive actual college credit leading to a degree and are also available for financial aid.

"Since we changed to the credit side of the college, our enrollment has just boomed," Smith said. "We were running around 30 or 40 welding students a year ago, now we are running 100 a semester in welding and HVAC. Financial aid is available for students now, where it wasn't previously. Students have so many advantages now, along with the new facility that we are about to open. I want the community to come out and look at this facility. We are, and the community is, touching a lot of lives with this facility."

Registration for the Spring semester is currently underway at NCTC. For more information about any of the Industrial Technology programs, contact Kenny Smith at 940-668-4272 or by email at ksmith@nctc.edu. You can also visit www.nctc.edu/CTE/industech to learn more.