Center for Manufacturing Excellence strives for advanced manufacturing growth in Southwest Florida
Erica Fish, Public Policy Intern
CME graduate Quinten Poindexter shared after getting a four-year degree and working in his career for a number of years, he craved for a change and saw his desires lined up with what the CME offers and immediately enrolled.
“I came and knew absolutely nothing about what it takes to be a machinist, and I learned how to read blueprint, how to machine, learn how to cut and process metal...” Poindexter said. “When I got my first job as a machinist, it’s been the only time I walked into a new job, and I didn’t feel nervous at all. I felt confident in all the skills I’ve picked up at CME.”
Poindexter is now a CNC Turning Operator for Structure Medical. He continues keeping in contact with CME’s lead instructor, Ross Porter, as the center continues installing new lab robotics and offering new courses.
Business owner of TPA Golf, Tee McCabe, began taking CME courses beginning Jan. 2021, with intentions to build his own machinery when manufacturing gold equipment for his company.
“I wanted to learn how to produce items and I’ve learned an incredible amount that I can apply to my business,” McCabe said.
McCabe has advanced quickly through Levels 1 & 2 of the NIMS certifications and focuses his skills in the lab’s inspection room working on the CMM (inspection) machine.
Currently, CME offers a full-time post-secondary machining technology course, short-term targeted training, employability skills and customized training development plans, training students to achieve the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) industry credentials to ensure professional competencies are met and everyone enrolled is prepared to pursue a position post-CME.
CME trains students to achieve NIMS credentials through lab work and textbook studies, including:
On average, CME students dive into two to three weeks of textbook study before taking on the lab portion for certification.
High school graduate Logen Gant enrolled two years ago and has begun applying for employment after earning his Level I certification.
“You can be employed full-time while earning CME certifications, so you’ll be constantly adding new skills to your professional work,” Gant said.
It’s been instructor Ross Porter’s third year at CME, with 7.5 years prior at iTech. Currently overseeing 11 with one dual-enrolled student, he strives in connecting his aspiring machinists with the over 40 southwest Florida businesses who make up CME’s advisory board.
He also provides networking opportunities for his students seeking apprenticeship and summer internships.
“I do my best to provide an atmosphere of support,” Porter said. “My students learn values from cleaning machinery, filling out maintenance logs to executing what they’re learned in the class setting to apply in lab. I want them to be able to get out there and do something with their skills.”
The CME strives to make southwest Florida the best in manufacturing for the state and country, by providing advanced manufacturing, machine repair and robotics for this area.
“We want to take care of this area and train accomplished people, so we’re not relying on outsiders.” Porter said. “We want southwest Florida to rely on southwest Florida, and have the talent here to sustain ourselves, continue to grow and remain an outstanding community.”
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