The constant cries of "All the engineers are retiring!" and "How are we going to fill the skills shortage?" have been especially loud and frequent lately. And, they're always followed by, "We need to…," but then little if any concrete action. As always, talk is cheap.
One shining exception to this overall inaction is the Haas Technical Education Center, which was launched by Haas Automation about 12 years ago, and has distributed about 3,000 machining centers and supporting materials to about 1,200 community colleges, high schools, colleges and universities.
Peter Zierhut, Haas' vice president of European operations and special projects, told me about HTEC in preparation for his OEM Insight column, which is scheduled to run in the August 2013 issue of Control Design.
The machines are typically tool-room mills and lathes, as well as some five-axis centers, which are usually deeply discounted or sometimes entrusted to the schools. HTEC also runs a partner program, in which other suppliers provide discounted fixtures, training software, machine parts, CAD/CAM software, certification standards and other materials. All of these help students learn to design products, turn them into finished parts, and eventually earn professional credentials, too.
Besides the machines and support materials, HTEC also runs one North American and 15 regional conferences each year, where educators, school officials and others gather to discuss and learn about solutions to shared machining education and other STEM-related challenges. In fact, the 2013 HTEC Americas CNC Educators Training Conference will be held next week, July 15-18, at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. About 100 educators and other attendees and two dozen exhibitors are already scheduled to attend.
Sounds like part of a nice, spontaneous summer vacation to me! And, keep an eye peeled for Mr. Zierhut’s OEM Insight column in August, OK?