Pocket NC in Vocational Education at Bridgerland Technical College (BTECH)

Introduction

About half of Pocket NC machines are used in educational settings from high schools to vocational schools to university research labs and fablabs or makerspaces. Over half of the machines used in education are used for teaching multi-axis CNC to students. Typically this is in a vocational college for future machinists or at university learning fundamentals of manufacturing or machining as part of training in an engineering field.

Bridgerland Technical College is using Pocket NC V2-10 machines in their extension program which allows high school students to take vocational education classes in the hope that through exposure to machining they become interested in pursuing further education in the machining certification program and a career in machining and manufacturing. In Utah, where Bridgerland Technical College is located, machining experience is in high demand. Students who go on from the machining certification program have almost guaranteed employment out of the program and quick advancement opportunities as they become more experienced machinists.

Spiral part made during online course, photo courtesy of Jason Petersen

How Pocket NC Machines are Integrated at BTECH

Machining instructor Jason Petersen says: “My objective is to get students interested in machining. Building projects with my manual machines (mill and lathes) accomplishes part of this. However, the CNC furthers that desire, in many cases. My Drafting and Automated Manufacturing students see the link between design and fabrication. At the main campus they are teaching courses with the larger CNC machines.  If I could scale down some of their projects, using your machines, I could have my students better prepared for these future courses at our main campus.”

Jason shares that right now students who have experience on the manual milling machines typically, although not always, start on the CNC and work through the Pocket NC online course. If a student finishes that course successfully they work on other similar projects and basic parts with the Pocket NC machine.

Students running the Pocket NC, photo courtesy of Jason Petersen

Benefits

A couple of benefits of the Pocket NC is that it works with Fusion 360 since the school teaches CAD in Autodesk Inventor. Jason adds “my students can make the transition quite easily from Inventor to Fusion. Students get very excited when they see what they can accomplish and build using the software with the Pocket NC.” A second benefit is that the machine is very portable allowing the students to run demonstrations at school board meetings. The Pocket NC also brings in 5-axis machining capabilities to the classes, which were not offered at this level prior. Jason shares “I absolutely know that as we develop this CNC curriculum, our students will have an advantage. In Logan, Utah there is a very big demand for CNC programmers.” 

Conclusion

Utah has a number of technical colleges with machining certification programs. Over 10% of Utah’s gross state product is from the manufacturing field and almost 10% of the workforce is in manufacturing. The top manufacturing sector in Utah is medical equipment and supplies.* The Pocket NC is a fantastic tool for recruiting students into manufacturing and is also an approachable machine to start learning the fundamentals of multi-axis machining. The online course assists instructors with ready-to-use curriculum. The simulator will help instructors evaluate student programs for any obvious risks before running their machine. The new Kinetic Control software provides students experience with TCPC found on most industrial 5-axis machines, scaling their skills to industry expectations. 

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