Thank you for reading 12 free articles on oanow.com. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 12 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you are a current 7-day or Digital only subscriber you are granted an all-access pass to the website and digital newspaper replica. Please click Sign Up to subscribe, or Login if you are already a member.

Thank you for reading 12 free articles on oanow.com. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 12 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you are a current 7-day or Digital only subscriber you are granted an all-access pass to the website and digital newspaper replica. Please click below to Get Started.

Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days. This is your last free article this period. On your next article we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription

Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days. This is your last free article this period. On your next article we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription

Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days, and you currently have remaining. Then, if you enjoy our site and want full access, we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription.

Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days, and you currently have remaining. Then, if you enjoy our site and want full access, we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription.

Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days, and you currently have remaining. Then, if you enjoy our site and want full access, we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription.



Thank you for reading oanow.com. You're entitled to view 12 articles for free every 30 days, and you currently have remaining. Then, if you enjoy our site and want full access, we'll ask you to purchase an affordable subscription.

Thank you for reading 12 free articles on oanow.com. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 12 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you are a current 7-day or Digital only subscriber you are granted an all-access pass to the website and digital newspaper replica. Please click Sign Up to subscribe, or Login if you are already a member.

Thank you for reading 12 free articles on oanow.com. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 12 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you are a current 7-day or Digital only subscriber you are granted an all-access pass to the website and digital newspaper replica. Please click below to Get Started.

From left to right, CNC expert Tim Carlton, welder Brendan Moore, machinist Anthony Singleton and senior technician Bradley Zenor comprise the Southern Union manufacturing team. 

From left to right, CNC expert Tim Carlton, welder Brendan Moore, machinist Anthony Singleton and senior technician Bradley Zenor comprise the Southern Union manufacturing team. 

A Southern Union State Community College manufacturing team comprised of a computer numerical control (CNC) expert, welder, machinist and senior technician competed against three other colleges in the Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge during the weekend at Auburn University.

The goal of the challenge is to address the critical shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing nationwide, according to the Alabama Community College System.

“We already got our welder, and he’s welded his part of the job,” machinist Anthony Singleton said Friday. “Right now, we’re just working on the programming itself, getting it up and ready to run. Hopefully, we can get everything finished. It’s a big challenge, but we are trying to stay together as a group, and do the best we can.

“We’ve had some hard times,” he added. “For our programming on the machine, we had to go back and redo things to overcome that. We’re out here trying to do what we’re trained to do, and do our best at it.”

The other schools that participated in the event were Wallace State, Calhoun, and Central Alabama community colleges.

CNC instructor Alvin McCormick said the challenge is primarily educational, providing hands-on experience as students craft parts and operate the integrated five-axis machinery.

“It lets them see what the industry is asking for and what this competition is about, a business skill set the industry wants,” McCormick said. “These five machines we are operating here, none of the schools have them, so it gives them the opportunity to work on this piece of equipment. It’s a really nice machine. It’s like getting to drive a Cadillac.”

Briggs & Stratton industry professionals were available as guides for the students to utilize and learn techniques vital in manufacturing outside of the classroom, said Darin Baldwin, Dean of Technical Education and Workforce Development at Southern Union.

“Seeing it click for those guys, it’s really some nervous energy taking place in there right now,” Baldwin said. “They say, ‘Are we going to get this thing put together?’ The industry guys say, ‘Yeah, this is how it actually works just hang with us and calm down. We’ll work through it and get there.’ From an educator’s perspective, that’s really what the students are getting out of it. We’re proud of them.”

As the students continued to create parts and assemble the pieces, they receive insight into a specialized profession, working in an environment of bright lights, pristine floors and clean equipment, a description most job seekers and students would not envision, Auburn University associate professor and Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing director Greg Harris said.

“That’s one of the reasons behind the event, because the majority of manufacturing environments are very clean, air-conditioned and climate controlled,” Baldwin said. “It’s not the old environment it used to be. It’s a high-tech environment for well-paying careers involved.”

Adele Ratcliff, director of the industrial base assistance sustainment program at the U.S. Department of Defense, emphasized the great need for specialized machinists like Singleton as well as welders and programmers.

“What has impeded our ability to grow in this country is the lack of a skilled workforce,” Ratcliff said. “If you want us moving forward from an economic position, it is the people who are participating in this competition that are going to propel us forward. From a Department of Defense perspective, we need a highly-educated workforce to be able to make the complex components in our supply chain.”

In 10 years, companies within the United States will need more than 2 million specialized workers to replace the manufacturing professionals transitioning into retirement, according to Harris.

“The things we dream of are manifested in manufacturing,” Ratcliff said. “It’s manufacturing that brings those dreams and thoughts to reality. That’s why we need the best. We need the best coming into the trades to be able to help manifest all of the innovative thinking that we have in this country, to bring it to reality and be able to compete in the global economy.”

As the need for skilled labor has risen, the cost of tuition for manufacturing education has decreased, and the starting salaries of machinists, programmers and welders has received a significant increase, Ratcliff said.

CNC Non-metal Machining Parts

Our award-winning team of journalists is at its best in covering news in East Alabama. For a limited time, get a digital subscription for just $3.95 a month.Sign up now at oanow.com/subscribe

Precision Part, Precision Machining, Precision Machining Part - Hongye,https://www.hongyeprecision.com/