Starting in January, the press brake, laser, saw and shear machines in the “Fab Lab” at Moraine Park Technical College’s Fond du Lac campus will come alive as the first group of students in the new Metal Fabrication program begins to learn the trade.
Well-rounded training has been incorporated into the curriculum to meet industry needs. “Fabrication means many different things to the companies in our district, ranging from operating one specific type of machine, to building a complete project using a variety of machines and tools,” said Larry Clark, Moraine Park Metal Fabrication program instructor.
The College recently purchased a Mitsubishi 2,000-watt laser machine through the manufacturer’s Encore program, which takes used machines from around the country and reconditions them for new service. The laser uses focused, coherent light to provide enough heat to cut metal and other materials such as wood and plastic, and is faster and more precise than a plasma cutter.
“Our laser was originally built in 1996, but was completely refurbished this year,” said Clark. The new optical parts were not available in 1996, so it is a much better piece of equipment and more powerful. “This is an industrial-sized machine being used by companies right now, so it gives our students a unique opportunity.”
The two-semester technical diploma program incorporates standards of the American Welding Society, Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA) and Manufacturing Skills Standards Council. Students will learn to read technical prints and perform automated cutting, forming and welding to build metal products from start to finish. Computer-aided drafting, computer numerical controlled machines, fixture design/building and plasma arc metal cutting are part of the program’s curriculum. In addition, lean practices, math and “soft skills” such as problem solving and teamwork will be covered.
“The Moraine Park district is in the center of the country’s strongest fabrication centers, and our employers have a need for employees who can problem solve on their feet as they form, cut and weld metal into our future products,” said Marcia Arndt, Moraine Park dean of manufacturing technology. “The new fabrication program is geared to those who want to work with their hands and want to learn the technology involved with these processes.”
Graduates of the new program can work in several types of positions that are found at area companies, including entry-level welder, press brake set-up operator, fabricator/fitter, plasma table operator/programmer, laser operator or layout/set-up.
Details and a video about the Metal Fabrication program can be found at www.morainepark.edu. Click on Academics then All Programs 2009-10. Or contact an outreach specialist at 1-800-472-4554.