Matthew Collins paid his bills as an online poker player, and knew he needed something more secure.
“Now that I’m 25, I don’t want to get any older and have no degree, or certificate, and no job history. I was looking for something that was quick with not too much time investment. I did an online search, I found the GRCC Job Training program. It is only 18 weeks, affordable, with access to a lot of financial aid and grants; it seemed like a good opportunity.”
Collins originally wanted to enter the electrical program, but discovered there is a year-long waitlist.
“I talked with Michael Wemmer, one of the career coaches, and I landed in the Machine Tool/CNC program. Prior to this, I didn’t even know what that is!”
A machinist or CNC technician shapes metal and various materials to precise dimensions for parts by using machine tools. MT/CNC technicians plan and set up the sequence of machine operations in accordance with blueprints, layouts or other instructions to write both manual and computer-generated machine programs.
One of the hurdles to attracting students to the Machine Tool/CNC program is that most people are not aware of what it entails.
“I’ve had to explain it a lot since I started this program. I just tell people – it is using manual or automated machines to cut metal, or other materials, to create tools or parts that we use in everyday life,” Collins said. “Once I learned what it is, I see everything differently.”
Collins qualified for Michigan Reconnect – the state program that covers the cost of in-district tuition for people age 25 and older — as well as federal Pell Grants. He also received funding from the One Workforce Grant, which assists students in any of GRCC’s manufacturing programs.
“Everyone was really helpful! I started the whole enrollment process only two weeks before the start date. Michael Wemmer has been great and also Juan Cisneros. I think they had to jump through some hoops to get me in so quickly. I really appreciate their help.”
The GRCC Job Training CNC Machine Tool program meets 18 weeks for 34 hours per week. The program offers small class sizes, hands-on learning and job placement assistance. The Machine Tool/CNC program has recently been updated to better meet the industry needs.
“I’ve always had flexible schedule types of job so this is different, more structured,” Collins said. “The instructor, Jonathan Wyckoff, has been super. It’s a very comfortable environment. The lab is great. He really focuses on the hands-on skills. The day goes really fast because we are always working on parts and you have to really pay attention to what you are doing.”
Skills taught in the program include blueprint reading, basic shop math, read measurement tools and how to communicate effectively with others using today’s Machine Tool/CNC terminology. “I’m really enjoying learning about the metals, all the different tools and coding the machines. I’m finding it all really interesting.”
Collins isn’t sure what he’s going to do after he completes the program in December. He’s considering continuing his education.
The next section of Job Training programs begins Nov. 7.