Universal Technical Institute, with campuses from coast to coast, has been instrumental in giving countless young men and women the training they need to fill jobs as technicians within the transportation industries. At their campus in Mooresville, North Carolina, fittingly called NASCAR Technical Institute, or NASCAR Tech for short, the school’s move to add CNC machining technology to its courses of study has shifted the program into high gear.
Mill, Lathe, Dynamic Motion, Educational Suite
Education, Automotive, Aerospace, Medical
The Vice President of Business Alliances for NASCAR Tech, John Dodson, says, “We have several business alliance partners who help guide our training programs, outfit our labs with the latest technology and equipment, and then hire our graduates. While many of these companies are involved with competitive auto racing here in ‘Race City, USA,’ others are manufacturing everything from medical components to aerospace parts. Most of them have their own CNC machining departments and have been having trouble finding skilled technicians to program and run their machine tools. Doug Yates of Roush Yates Engines partnered with us on the curriculum and brought some CNC equipment into our lab. We then brought in our head instructor, Ron Brittain, who continued adjustments to the curriculum and worked closely with Mastercam to solidify our CAD/CAM program.”
The CNC program at UTI’s NASCAR Tech campus runs for 36 weeks. “We start the students off with a thorough indoctrination in manual operations,” says Brittain, “and that includes the basics of running manual mills and lathes, operating a drill press, and so on, as well as some offhand tool grinding. We’re not training them to be manual machinists, but we are teaching them concepts that are applicable to CNC machining.”
In addition to several manual mills and lathes, students have access to three Haas CNC vertical machining centers, a Haas CNC turning center, and a Mori Seiki CNC turning center. “We also have twelve Haas simulators,” says Brittain, “that lets the students de-bug their programs in simulated graphics before they load the programs into the machine controls. There are numerous seats of Mastercam in our CAD/CAM lab, plus one for the instructor.”
After several weeks of working with the manual machines, the program progresses with two classes on CNC lathes and two classes on CNC mills. At this point, they are ready to learn programming with a class on Mastercam.
“Most of our students,” says Brittain, “have had absolutely no experience whatsoever with CAD/CAM. They are usually coming to us right from high school, or from military service on the GI Bill, or are crossing over from other industries to one they feel offers them more of a future. We’ll start out teaching them 2D CAM operations with some wire frame geometry and then do some 2D machining and create several solid models. It’s important that we teach them Mastercam’s Dynamic Milling and explain why that is applicable to today’s world of CNC machining. We show students how to use the various features of Mastercam software to optimize feed rates and extend the life of their tooling. All this is important if they are to be productive in the real world.”
One of the tasks at NASCAR Tech is to get young people to understand what CNC machining really is and what Computer Numerical Control means to successful manufacturing across a wide spectrum of today’s industries. “One of the things we do,” says Dodson, “is go out to the high schools and get students and their parents to realize that there are great jobs available in manufacturing, whether it’s producing parts for race engines here in the Carolinas, or working over in the Honda Jet Center in Greensboro making parts for aerospace, or just down the street from us machining medical device components.”
As Ron Brittain mentioned, about thirty percent of our students are career changers and a lot of military folks are coming to us because they like our program both for the hands-on approach and for the technical aspects of our CAD/CAM curriculum. I guess you could say it’s an important mission for us to get the word out to high schools, military bases and beyond that, there’s an exciting future for them out there in CNC manufacturing and Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR Tech has the program that will get them started on that path.”
When it comes to those jobs available to graduates, both Dodson and Brittain are enthusiastic about the future of their program. “Our CNC job board is overflowing with career opportunities,” says Dodson. “Right now, we have people coming from all over the United States to enroll in our program. The impact we are making in the CNC industry is nice to see. It’s equally nice to see our graduates fulfill their dreams.”
“We show students how to use the various features of Mastercam software to optimize feed rates and extend the life of their tooling. All this is important if they are to be productive in the real world.”– Ron Brittain, Head Instructor, UTI NASCAR Tech, Mooresville, North Carolina
Get students trained using the CAD/CAM software that would best prepare them for careers in the fast-paced auto racing industry as well as other high-precision manufacturing fields.
- Easy to teach and learn
- The most widely used CAD/CAM software
- Applicable to a wide range of CNC machine tools
- Teacher assistance available as needed from Mastercam