News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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December 28, 2013

Graduates ready to begin career at Stark Industries

TERRE HAUTE — The graduation ceremony for the first “CNC Machinist NOW” class took place on Dec. 20 on the campus of Vincennes University. The 10 graduates, nine of which are military veterans, will begin working for Stark Industries in Terre Haute within the next two weeks.

The Vincennes University CNC Machinist Now program was designed to prepare veterans and civilian adult learners to become well-rounded, entry level CNC machinists, with upward mobility potential.

The curriculum was a combination of machining theory and extensive hands-on training. All graduates were guaranteed positions with Stark Industries after completing the 16-week course.

Faced with the reality of a severe shortage of skilled workers in the precision machining and advanced manufacturing industry, Stark Industries partnered with Vincennes University and the Haas Technology Education Center to develop this program for its specific needs. This is the first program of its kind in Indiana. While the program helps fulfill the needs of industry, it is also addressing the high rate of unemployment among our veterans.

While the national unemployment rate in the United States is 7 percent, the rate for military veterans is 10 percent. In Indiana, those numbers are worse, with the post 9/11 veterans’ rate being more than double the state’s current unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.

According to Doug Bowman, director of VU’s HTEC, Indiana alone will need 7,000 new machinists over the next five years. In order to provide high-quality training on state-of-the-art equipment to help bridge the advanced manufacturing “skills gap,” programs like this will require a public-private partnership.

“In order to keep growing our business, and to keep up with the demands of our customers, a program like this makes sense,” said Jeff Stark, president of Stark Industries. “Larger companies are changing their business model due to the shortage of qualified machinists. We decided to take a proactive approach to help solve a national problem by starting right here in Indiana.”

VU President Dr. Richard Helton, VU Vice President David Tucker, and U.S. Congressman Larry Bucshon took part in the graduation ceremony. All three were encouraged by the graduates of this first class, and called the program a huge success.

While earning their diplomas, each of the students also earned six National Institute for Metalworking Skills certifications.

The next class begins in January.

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