East Central College is one of five community colleges in the St. Louis area forming a consortium to train workers for advanced manufacturing jobs at aerospace companies.
The consortium is one piece in Missouri’s efforts to build the Boeing 777X commercial airplane in St. Louis.
The Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium is made up of ECC, Jefferson College, Mineral Area College, St. Charles Community College and St. Louis Community College.
ECC President Jon Bauer was among the higher education leaders who met with Gov. Jay Nixon Nov. 27 to discuss Missouri’s proposal.
Nixon announced the initiative last Wednesday as the Missouri Senate approved legislation offering incentives for Boeing.
Missouri is among more than a dozen locations invited by Boeing to bid for the project.
Bauer said the Missouri Aerospace Training Consortium will have the capacity to train thousands of Missourians for high-demand, high-wage jobs.
“This will strengthen the relationships we already have with manufacturers in our region,” he said. “ECC and the other four colleges already offer many programs that are related to aerospace manufacturing, including production, assembly, robotics, automation, precision machining and welding.”
ECC offers two programs at its Washington location that tie directly to the needs of the aerospace giant: industrial engineering technology and precision machining.
The IET program is designed to prepare students to work in manufacturing and industrial environments. Graduates are prepared to install, troubleshoot and maintain complex manufacturing and processing equipment. The program is accredited by the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering.
The Precision Machining program supports the region’s extensive machine tool industry. Coursework includes study in computer-aided manufacturing, CNC lathe and mill work, machining, print reading, and materials and metallurgy.
The program has earned accreditation through the National Institute for Metal Working Skills and is a partner member of the National Tool Makers Association and is recognized as an exemplary program.
Bauer noted that ECC’s Center for Workforce Development currently partners with local businesses and industries to offer a large variety of training programs.
“The college is especially proud of our partnership with Valent Aerostructures,” Bauer said. “In addition to serving them through Missouri’s New Jobs Training Program and assisting as they access nearly $300,000 in training funds, Valent has also chosen to partner with our Center for Workforce Development to aid in recruitment and training new employees. In partnership with ToolingU, ECC developed an online training program designed to provide core skills for the newly hired machinists.”
Forty-seven Valent employees have enrolled in the initial 15 module training that focuses on lean manufacturing, math and measuring fundamentals, blueprint reading, hole making and GD&T.
Throughout the program, the college is also providing administrative support, including reporting, student learning assistance and technical support.
This program has already proven highly successful and a second offering is being developed for employees who require more advanced precision machining skills.
In addition to the relationship with Valent, East Central partners with many local businesses to provide a variety of services designed to help them meet all of their training and development needs. ECC assists with drafting training plans and long-range development plans, provides consulting services, offers new hire screening and orientations along with job profiling services.
“East Central’s programs are extensive in areas related to manufacturing and we provide excellent training in the areas of quality, continuous improvement and safety,” said Gretchen Pettet, executive director of the Center for Workforce Development. “We have a robust leadership series and qualified instructors for software training. ECC is also able to provide precision machining, welding and industrial engineering technology training endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers.”
Pettet noted that ECC is in the midst of a three-year, $1 million Missouri Manufacturing WINS grant.
The MoManWINs grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and is designed to expand offerings and increase the number of certified and accredited manufacturing applicants and employees in the region.