New Vocational Opportunity for Local High School Students


A new vocational class is being offered at Plymouth Schools for students in the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative. Plymouth Schools, the Vocational Cooperative, Ivy Tech and ITAMCO are offering a dual credit course to help teach students CNC and machinist industrial skills. The idea is to bridge a technology gap so these students can be ready when they enter college or the industrial workforce out of high school.

Vocational Cooperative Director Jerry Hollenbaugh said this couldn’t have been done without the partnership of all involved.

“This all came about through ITAMCO having a real need for skilled workers in CNC or machine trades industry,” noted Hollenbaugh. “They approached the superintendent at Plymouth schools and said they were willing to be financially involved to get this program started because the schools don’t really have funding to start a half-million dollar program. From there, the superintendent contacted me and we developed this program.”

The maintenance supervisor transformed the old bus garage on the Plymouth campus into a state-of-the art facility. Superintendent Dan Tyree was thrilled in the transformation that took place in a short amount of time and the skills the 13 students will get is state-of-the-art.

“There’s a skills gap in this industry,” commented Tyree. “We have students that are going into work at these places and they don’t have the slightest idea of what they’re doing. We’re trying to give students that first step to enter into this field all over the region.”

Thomas Coley, the Chancellor at Ivy Tech, is proud that the college can give the students in this class dual credit for the skills they will learn in this opportunity.

“It’s very important,” explained Chancellor Coley. “It allows the students to get very technical training and get credit for high school as well as college. When they graduate from high school, they will leave with a certificate that’s transferable to each workplace. They’ll have college credits so if they want to go on to pursue more advanced degrees they’ll be that much farther ahead. It’ll be less costly to them to do it.”

ITAMCO Purchasing Manager, Mark Neidig, explained that he along with the partners in this project agreed that a technological gap needed to be closed and ITAMCO provided the seed money to get the pieces of equipment get this program off the ground. Neidig said what companies like his want are students to get excited about manufacturing.

“There’s a lot of technology that they’re going to engage in here on the shop floor whether it be computers, machine controls themselves or the inspection,” said Neidig. “We want them to be familiar with it, to not be afraid of it and to really enjoy it. If they want to come right out of high school and work at ITAMCO, they’ll be fully capable to do so. If they want more, they can go to Ivy Tech to get more training and bridge the gap between a manufacturing/engineering position and high school.”

Neidig said 80 percent of what the students will learn on the two types of machines in is most of the manufacturing technology.

“We have some vertical mills here and they’re manually controlled. The students will actually crank them by hand and move all of the axis by hand. Then we have a CNC or computer controlled technology version of the mill where they will program it on a computer and then the machine will do what they tell it to do. The second type of machine is a lathe and the lathe basically turns cylindrical parts. We have two manual versions of that and then we have a CNC version where they will computer control that.”

The program is open to all students in the Marshall, Starke, and Fulton County areas.