CCCTC Cuts Ribbon to Open $1M Machining Lab

LISBON, Ohio – The new precision machining and manufacturing lab at Columbiana County Career and Technical Center is the perfect training ground for high schools students and adult learners to become machinists, says Matt Joing of Butech Bliss.

School officials, business partners, students and guests celebrated the lab’s opening Monday. It features more than  $1 million in state of the art and traditional equipment for machining and careers in manufacturing. 

During the ceremony, the program received $14,000 from the Gene Haas Foundation for student scholarships. This is in addition to a $10,000 donation the foundation made last year. The money will provide scholarships for students to receive credentials like National Institute Metalworking Skills.

Haas was born in Youngstown and owner of Haas Automation, Nascar’s Stewart-Haas Racing and Haas F1 in Formula One racing. He lives in California.

Toni Neary, director of education for the Haas Factory Outlet, says the foundation has provided $60 million to support education in the United States since 2014, including $1 million for educational programs in Ohio.

“We want to highlight that advanced manufacturing is alive and well in Ohio and it’s a prosperous career and a great opportunity for students,” Neary said. 

Matt Peters, instructor at the lab, said the $24,000 donated by the foundation is significant for paying for credentialing, which he says costs about $5,000 a year.

Haas Automation makes computer numerical control, or CNC, machines, which line the perimeter of the lab where student Logan Thomas was inputting measurements in the machine’s computer display. The subtractive manufacturing CNC machines are used in the medical, dentistry, aerospace and automotive industries. The lab features mills and lathes as well. 

“There is no industry in manufacturing that there’s not some form of machining. It’s just removing product to make a final end product,” Neary said. “Anything made out of metal at some point has been machined.” 

She explained that Haas wants students to have the opportunity to learn the skilled trade of machining. 

“There’s a lot of misconceptions that hands on means minds off  and I think it’s so important that students who learn by doing are not seen in a different light than students who can do it academically,” she said. 

Jeremy Corbisello, director and assistant superintendent for the technical center, pointed out that much of the equipment was purchased through a $200,000 Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Steels grant from Ohio’s Department of Education. Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition was instrumental in applying for and obtaining the grant, he said. 

“We have a skills gap we’re trying to fill. There are people here who don’t have jobs they don’t have the training,” Corbisello said. “We are the avenue to get them trained and help bridge that gap and help them obtain gainful employment with dignity so that they can support their family. This isn’t just pushing a broom. It’s skilled labor.”

Logan Thomas, a Columbiana County Career and Technical Center student, prepares one of the lab’s new HAAS VF3SS machines.

Peters said the equipment will give students a leg up in getting a job in machining once they graduate.

“The money really has been spent in the right places to do everything we need,” he said.

Logan Thomas, a senior at Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, was inputting commands into one of the CNC machines for a product that he designed using a computer program called Fusion.

Peters said Thomas designed a machine checking fixture that will be used at the Vex Robotics competition between 10 schools in the county, sponsored by the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. The device will measure the robots to make sure each school’s entry meets the contest’s size requirement. Hickey Metal Fabrication in Salem donated the aluminum for the checking fixtures.  

Thomas, of Calcutta, said the CNC mill machine is more precise and can produce more detail in a product. 

He said he comes from a family with a manufacturing background, so he has always had an interest in the field. 

“Up until this program opened up, I was planning on coming [to the technical center] for culinary. I like to eat so I figured I’d better learn how to cook. I make a pretty good schezwan chicken,” he said. 

But after the machining lab opened, he switched gears. He would like to get a job at Strohecker, Inc. in East Liverpool where a friend works. Eventually he is interested in pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Youngstown State University. 

He plans to stay in the area, but may want to move west at some point. 

“But I wouldn’t stay away long,” he said, as he prefers being around family.

Butech Bliss’ Joing said the lab has state of the art equipment for both high school and adult learners to perfect their craft. Joing is vice president of operations for the Salem based company,  that employs 290. The company manufactures large equipment for steel mills and steel coil processing.

“It’s sold, designed and manufactured all in Salem, Ohio. We’re a completely local company. We provide great, high paying jobs. Our jobs average over $20 and hour with great benefits.,” he said.  

Joing, who is president of MVMC, said the lab was a long time in coming and is the culmination of education, government, businesses and the community working together to open the lab. 

“This lab ties in education, workforce along with companies to change the perception of manufacturing and create opportunities like here at the Columbiana career center for real machine training to happen,” Joing said. “This is the perfect training ground for high school students and adult learners to come in and be a machinist.”

Pictured: Joe Wilcox and Matt Joing of Butech Bliss, Jessica Borza of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, CCCTC student Blaine Havens, CCCTC precision machining and manufacturing lab instructor Matt Peters, CCCTC student Aden Eno, Darrell Wallace of Youngstown State University, Chris Tsiros and Toni Neary of Haas, Dave Hughes of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturer’s Coalition and CCCTC Board of Education member Gary Peruchetti.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.