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Advanced Manufacturing

Tech School beefing up machinist instruction

TURNERS FALLS — Striking a balance between available tools and instruction, the Franklin County Technical School is hiring a third instructor for the newly modernized machine shop.

The school, local businesses and the state invested in modern machine shop technology this year, renovating the space and equipping it with new, computer-controlled machines, all to the tune of about $700,000.

Superintendent James Laverty said the new instructor is needed given the student enrollment and the new physical configuration of the shop, with four of the 14 new machines in a neighboring room.

Laverty said both the current instructors are required to supervise the main room, leaving the other four machines unuseable.

With 35 students enrolled in the program in 10th through 12th grades, the machine technology program is the largest in the school, Laverty said. Members of the incoming freshman class, the first to be greeted with the fully re-equipped machine shop, have yet to make their final shop selections. Last year, 17 freshmen selected the shop as their first choice, and four had to be turned away even after the instructors agreed to accept one more than the usual class size, Laverty said.

The Tech School Committee recently approved creation of the new position.

The current instructors are still in the process of fully familiarizing themselves with the new machines.

The position requires either Chapter 74 instructor certification or five or more years of experience in the machining industry, particularly with computer numerical control machines.

The cost of the new position will depend on the employee, Laverty said, but several retirements this year created some flexibility in the budget.

The new instructor should be in place beginning in January.

The curriculum is also catching up to the new shop.

“One of the issues we’ve had long-standing is we didn’t have the machines necessary to implement the frameworks, so now with the 21st century machines it’s an all new ballgame,” Laverty said.

Laverty said Vocational Curriculum Director Jocelyn Croft has attended two trainings on upcoming changes in the state curriculum frameworks, and Tech should have an aligned curriculum by the end of the year.

“Without a doubt by the end of the year, if not sooner,” Laverty said.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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