A Look at Stark State’s Continuing Education Program

The best companies refuse to wait for their industry to change around them. They seek out ways to stay ahead of the curve, usually by learning new techniques and familiarizing their teams with the latest technology. That’s where institutions like Stark State College in Canton, Ohio, come into play.

Stark State’s Advanced Technology Center is dedicated to providing the best manufacturing education for all of its students, and not all of those students are teens and 20-somethings earning a technical degree. “Not only do we offer the accredited courses for our associate degree students, we also do specialized training for local industry,” said Steve Tornero, department chair and assistant professor in industrial technologies.

Tornero’s department works with approximately 50 companies in Northeast Ohio to offer custom courses tailored to whatever a specific company might need. During our interview, Tornero discussed a group of professionals attending one such class.

Stark State College machine shop

“This group is from a local company that is anticipating the economy slowing down, so they’ve decided to bring in some of their key machinists and we’re going to start developing some specialized training for their associates.” This particular group of machinists learned new techniques in manual milling and turning, but Tornero explained that Stark offers corporate training in CNC machining, welding, metrology, and more.

This type of coordination is a great example of Dynamic Thinking. To stay nimble in the face of changing market conditions, companies and education providers must always strive to adapt and keep up with, if not ahead of, the change curve. Resources for CAD/CAM users to stay informed, including a series of Dynamic Thinking webinars, are available from Mastercam.

Offering this extra program is not without its complications, though. Most companies that send their professionals to corporate training have three shifts and want their staff to keep their regular hours. That means that Tornero sometimes must find staff to teach 10:30 pm to 3:30 am, something that he admitted can be a struggle.

Stark State College working in Mastercam

In addition, everyone in the department is completely devoted to providing the best possible course, which means no two classes will ever be the same. “Every company has a certain way that they do things. Our instructors have to work hand in hand with companies to learn their techniques prior to teaching the course,” explained Tornero. There is no standard curriculum that the Stark instructors can fall back on; they build each training session from the ground up.

Even with their added difficulties, Tornero asserts that offering these continuing education courses is more than worth it. “With some companies, we’ve had relationships with them that go back 10 years. We actually feel like we’re part of their company because we know their processes.” He takes pride in knowing that Stark State is keeping Northeast Ohio manufacturers on top of their game. And the relationship goes both ways.

Stark State College trophy

“We like working with area industry because we’re not out in the field anymore. Those guys are out there working in the field every day, so this keeps us current and up to date on just what’s needed out there,” Tornero said.

He and his staff all spent decades in the manufacturing industry before turning to education, and he knows just how quickly the industry evolves. That constant communication with professionals with their boots on the ground means that Stark is always clued into what is happening in manufacturing. That way they can guarantee the best education for every single student.

You can learn more about Stark State College in a related article, Skill Training and Confidence Building, available from American Machinist.