(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s dual enrollment program in Precision Machining Technology engages high school students and gives them a head start in a growing field.
The program at TSTC’s North Texas campus began in 2021. It teaches students about what Lyle Guinn, the program’s lead instructor, described as the subtractive process.
“Precision machining is the field of production manufacturing; we’re a subtractive process,” Guinn said. “Everything we do removes material from whatever we’re making. Everything that we touch in our day-to-day lives has a machinist in the pipeline somewhere, somehow, some shape. From the soles of your shoes to the glasses you wear, a machinist has had some touch on it.”
The full Precision Machining Technology program takes a year and three months to complete in order to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree, or a year for a certificate of completion. Students who come to TSTC after completing the dual enrollment program can have up to a semester’s worth of classes already completed.
“When (dual enrollment students) come in, we start with reading blueprints, and then we teach them how to measure things, then we teach them how to actually do something on a machine,” Guinn said. “Once that third class is there, they kind of start going, ‘Oh, OK, I see how all of this starts to fit together.’”
Second-semester dual enrollment student Wyatt Gosiger commented on how he had been able to apply what he learned in the program at school and in other areas of his life.
“I work in the robotics club for high school, and we can use this skill for cutting out pieces for our robot,” Gosiger said. “It gives you extra skills to use throughout life, and it will teach you a lot more about tools.”
Angel Gutierrez, a student in his fourth semester of the dual enrollment program, said while the program could be difficult at times, he believed the work was worth it.
“It can be difficult, but that’s what makes it one of the best things,” he said. “Because the more you learn in this program, the more skills you’re going to have. If you have a chance to do it, do it because it can benefit you in the future.”
Guinn stated that starting salaries for machinists can range anywhere from $18 to $30 an hour. He also commented that due to the rate of retirement, the demand for workers is greatly increasing and will continue to do so.
“Demand for machinists is actually quite high because the baby boomers are retiring, and there’s really nobody coming into the field to pick up the slack,” Guinn said. “Salaries have gone just amazingly outrageous. So I think the last time I heard there was a three-fold increase in jobs over the next three years.”
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.