JCJC’s Precision Manufacturing & Machining Program earns national accreditation

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-09-14 11:26:23

ELLISVILLE - Jones County Junior College’s Precision Manufacturing and Machining Program is the first post-secondary program in the state to earn the esteemed National Institute for Metalworking Skills accreditation.  For the last two years, everything has been revamped from the curriculum and equipment to faculty and student training to obtain this lofty goal.

“The NIMS accreditation for Jones’ Machining Program affirms our commitment to excellence in graduating students who can compete with the high standards expected from employers.  Our students complete Jones confident and poised for careers that are in high demand,” stated Dr. Jesse Smith, President of Jones County Junior College. 

The Level I Machining Skills accreditation means faculty have been trained to teach their students the NIMS standards for quality work in the industry.  JCJC Dean of Liberal Arts, Industrial Services and the Advanced Technology Center, Dr. Shannon Campbell coordinated the effort after Jones received the WIRED Momentum grant in 2007.  The $5 million federal grant was designed to create centers for excellence in advanced manufacturing and help Mississippi workers attain higher job skills. 

“I am very proud of our machining faculty who’ve been working diligently to upgrade their teaching credentials and making incremental improvements in the program that has helped us achieve the NIMS accreditation.  I am also thankful to Dr. Smith and our business advisory council for challenging us to take the machining program to the highest standard available,” said Campbell.

One of the first obstacles to tackle was upgrading equipment. About $750,000 of equipment was purchased with the help of state and federal grants and phased in from 2008 through 2010 according to JCJC machining instructor James Jones.

“The grants were also used to upgrade our professional credentials, align curriculum to the NIMS standard and modularize our course offerings to meet the expectations of employers in the area.”

As faculty improved their credentials the NIMS accreditation then required at least two students to earn accreditation before it would consider accrediting the machining program.  Jones machining instructor, Jerry Hamm said that was accomplished in 2008. 

“Students had both written and performance tests.  Prior to NIMS, our faculty were the only source of grading a student’s work.  Now, we’ve added a third party technical evaluation committee to independently verify that the student’s work meets the NIMS standard,” said Hamm. “I’d like to thank our local industry leaders and our JCJC advisory committee for their support in helping make this accreditation process a reality.”

Ed Cook, the B Equipment company plant manager is one of the advisory committee members assigned with the task of evaluating the student’s work.  He explained in the past, he was unsure of his potential new employees’ job skill level.  A lot of time and money was wasted on employees who were hired and couldn’t perform to industry levels.

“If they are NIMS certified, then they have met national industry expectations, it’s easier to evaluate them in the hiring process, and I feel better about hiring them. It’s a dangerous job if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Another potential employer of JCJC machining graduates is GE Aviation which is expected to open in Ellisville in about one year.  Campbell added Jones’ machining program is aligned with the employee needs of GE, Hol-mac industries in Bay Springs and B Equipment in Ellisville. Knowing that, Jones machining student, Jeff McDade of Laurel said he is optimistic about his job prospects.

“So far I have three credentials and the NIMS accreditation will give me the advantage in getting a job at GE or anywhere really.   I’ll also be more confident in my skills with this training,” said McDade. 

Manual machinists are called to design and create a part that has become obsolete on the market for replacement.  They are also called upon to custom design a new part that has a complicated design.  Cook said there is a demand for manual machinist because there aren’t as many people learning the trade.  Entry level machinists can earn $9 an hour with the potential of earning $20 an hour with experience.

“Manual machinists are competing against the CNC operator so they need to be able to quickly create the needed part with precision.  A machinist has a secure future because there will always be a need,” said Cook.

Jones will be offering a mini-session for machining beginning October 15 through December13 to help get more machinists into the field. JCJC’s Precision Manufacturing and Machining Program is offered as a two-year technical certificate or as an associate of applied technology program.   For more information about the program, call 601-477-4201 or email jerry.hamm@jcjc.edu or james.jones@jcjc.edu.


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