TSTC precision machining

Staying relevant with technology helps precision machining students become more marketable

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Many people recognize the feeling of starting a new job and not knowing what to do. In spite of previous experience and education, training is still required upon hiring.

Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program is looking to reduce — if not eliminate — that feeling for its graduates.

A recent tour through the Precision Machining Technology lab on TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus showed one example of how the college is aligning its curriculum and training to provide relevant opportunities for students that lead to good-paying jobs.

Students in TSTC instructor Deogratias Nizigiyimana’s lab worked on a variety of projects. Some used milling machines to create vises based on measurements and other specifications.

“We call it manual machining because that’s where students use their hands to operate the machines,” Nizigiyimana said.

The spacious lab hosts many different pieces of equipment. From a computer numerical controlled (CNC) water-jet cutter to the DMG MORI NLX 2500 turning center, Nizigiyimana’s goal is to ensure that his students familiarize themselves with the tools of their trade: machines designed to make precise measurements for customized tools and parts.

There is no room for error. Missing a single step — or decimal place — can result in disaster.

The capabilities of the NLX 2500 are expansive.

“It’s like two machines in one,” Nizigiyimana said, describing how the machine can make different types of surfaces. “This is a new machine.”

The machine requires instructions written in code to run — and there are more than 500 commands available, Nizigiyimana said. But when TSTC students log experience with the machine, it pays off in a big way.

“People who know how to run this machine, they make more money,” he said. “The programming is not simple, but it’s worth it.”

Nizigiyimana added that it is a rare opportunity for students to be able to train with the NLX 2500.

“It’s not easy to find even for production because they are very expensive and do a very good job,” he said. “There is only one campus where you can find this kind of machine. They are designed for production and not for teaching.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology, a Machining certificate of completion and a Basic Machining occupational skills award.

In Texas, CNC tool programmers can earn $57,670 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projected growth for this job in the state is 29% through 2028, onetonline.org finds.

Texas employs the most CNC tool programmers in the nation at 2,640, and the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area hosts 940 such jobs — the third-highest number in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC is so confident that the training its students receive during this program will culminate in a job that Precision Machining Technology is part of the college’s Money-Back Guarantee. If graduates do not get hired in their field within six months after earning their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.

Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.

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