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Precision Machining Students Gear Up For SkillsUSA State Competition


Precision Machining winners

Three students in Danville Community College’s Precision Machining Technology diploma program will represent the district in the SkillsUSA Virginia state competition. Shown from left to right in the precision machining lab are students Eric Collie of Ringgold, Dylan Hardy of Danville and Porchia Russell of Pelham, NC; and Kevin Poole, Assistant Professor of Precision Machining Technology. The competition will take place on the DCC campus.

DANVILLE, VA, April 7, 2015 – Three students in Danville Community College’s Precision Machining Technology diploma program are gearing up for the SkillsUSA Virginia state competition. Eric Collie, Dylan Hardy, and Porchia Russell will compete with students from seven other schools for the chance to participate in the national SkillsUSA competition. DCC will host the state competition in its precision machining lab in the Charles R. Hawkins Engineering and Industrial Technologies building on Saturday, April 11.

“Last year we had one competitor (for SkillsUSA state), so this year I’m pretty excited that we’ve got three contestants. It gives us more opportunity to excel at the national level,? said Kevin Poole, Assistant Professor of Precision Machining Technology. All three of the students are in their second year of the diploma program. The students must attain a minimum score requirement from the judges in the state competition to advance to the national SkillsUSA competition, slated for June 22-26 in Louisville, Ky.

The DCC precision machining students are demonstrating their skills in different categories. Russell is competing in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling, Hardy is competing in CNC lathe, and Collie is competing in both CNC milling and CNC lathe. The competition encapsulates what the students have learned in the precision machining technology program, from plotting out points using trigonometry skills to determining the depth and pitch of a certain part and correctly programming a CNC machine to create that part.

“I think about what I’ve learned from day one until now. When you think about what you’ve learned, it’s a whole lot more than what you realize,? Hardy said. He has learned more than 100 CNC codes, and will need to recall those codes during the competition. Collie will have the task of switching from one machine to another in a matter of minutes, and having to write two CNC programs in two hours, with one hour for each machine.

“The time frame is absolutely the biggest challenge,? Collie said. “I plan to do the easy stuff first, then set my mind on the harder program writing.? Russell has a similar strategy – tackling the simpler codes first, then moving on to the more difficult ones. “The preparation is key in this competition,? she said. “The challenge is trying to balance classwork, employment and preparing for this competition.?

This weekend marks the first time DCC has hosted a SkillsUSA state competition here on its campus, putting the spotlight on the workforce-geared Precision Machining Technology program, Poole noted. “This competition is not only important for the students, but it’s important for the purpose of attracting businesses and industries to this area. It puts a spotlight on our local workforce,? Poole said.

Regardless of whether they advance to the national competition, the students feel confident that they will be prepared to enter the workforce after competing in SkillsUSA and ultimately earning a diploma in Precision Machining Technology from DCC. “This competition shows that we have a college here that is producing industry-ready students,? Russell said. “We have industry equipment here in the precision machining lab, so it makes a big difference being exposed to that early.? Collie also expressed his confidence in using the skills he has acquired as a student at DCC in an industry setting. “You’re definitely coming out of here with the skillset you need for anything that comes your way in the workforce,? Collie said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to enhance workforce training. CNC programming/ precision machining is one of many areas in which students can compete in the SkillsUSA competition. This weekend’s SkillsUSA Virginia state competition in precision machining includes competitors from Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center, Giles County Technology Center, Grayson County Vocational School, Valley Career and Technical Center, Wythe County Technology Center, and Smyth Career and Tech Center. Corporate sponsors for the competition are Master Gage & Tool Co. and Piedmont Precision Machine Co., Inc. The DCC Educational Foundation is sponsoring a welcome dinner for all contest participants at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research the evening prior to the competition.


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