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The MAKING CHIPS Podcast for Manufacturing Leaders with Jason Zenger & Jim Carr

Welcome to MakingChips - We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems and grow your business. Making Chips is a weekly podcast that will EQUIP and INSPIRE MANUFACTURING LEADERS to succeed in the challenging world of manufacturing. Our mission is for the METALWORKING NATION to Think Differently About Manufacturing In Order to Elevate their Game. Your hosts, Jason Zenger & Jim Carr, own manufacturing businesses and interview other leaders in the metalworking, machining, fabrication, tooling and machine tool industries. We have interviewed successful manufacturing CEOs you may have not heard of and also the biggest names in manufacturing like Titan Gilroy from Titans of CNC, John Saunders from NYC CNC, Mark Terryberry from Haas Automation and others from MakerCast, Sandvik Coromant, Autocrib and more. Think of us as your virtual community of manufacturing peers to help solve your toughest problems and grow your business. "Making Chips has provided a transparent approach to sharing within the manufacturing community and a modern platform to do so. Thank you both for taking the lead on moving our industry segment forward!" Patricia Miller - CEO & Visionary (Matrix IV) I really think what you guys are doing is a great, great thing for manufacturing. I have learned so much already from many of your episodes, and am so thrilled to have met people that get as revved up about manufacturing as I do! Cassandra Haupers – Vice President of Operations (Swiss Precision Machining) I love being able to experience what manufacturers are doing to promote culture and engage their team members and community. All of us are smarter than one of us. That is why I am part of the Making Chips tribe. Barry E. Walter, Jr. – Chief Operating Officer (Barry E. Walter, Sr. Co.) Finally, relevant manufacturing media that is actually entertaining! Dietmar Goellner – Chief Executive Officer (Advanced Machine & Engineering / Hennig) The more manufacturing companies we can get to think this way, the stronger our industry will be. Thank you for sharing! Jess Giudici – Manager, Talent and Culture I’m thankful to you for creating MakingChips for the Metalworking Nation so that Owners / Employees can strengthen their companies. Phil Sponsler – President (ORBITFORM) I love the podcast! It really serves to fill a void in the manufacturing world. I will admit I always feel a little more inspired. Jason Falk – Senior Application Engineer, CMTSE (HURCO) Thanks to all the great info on your podcasts and the website. Dave Lechleitner – Director of Solutions and Product Marketing (KEYEDIN) I really love what you guys are doing to advance the mfg industry in a way that really reaches the right audiences. Jeff Rizzie – Senior Manager-Business Development (Sandvik Coromant)
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Aug 28, 2019

With college skyrocketing in price every year, machining trade schools offer an affordable and promising solution to those looking for a meaningful - and even lucrative - career path. Kurt Preisendanz is the Director of Training at the NTMA Training Centers in Southern California. Passionate about sharing the opportunities that machining has to offer the next generation, Kurt explains the challenges that trade schools face and ways that manufacturing leaders can help lead the charge in alternative higher education. Lee Norton is a board member of the California Manufacturing Workforce Foundation, a 501c3 charity that uses their donations to provide tuition and funding to currently enrolled students who are pursuing technical careers. Be sure to listen to this inspiring and insightful episode to learn more about the amazing option of machining trade schools and how you can make a difference. 

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Overcoming the misperception that trade schools aren’t good enough 

Kurt shares the struggles that he faces when representing the NTMA Training Centers at job fairs and high schools. Many parents and teachers push their children towards universities and traditional college paths because they believe those are the best options available. Trade schools are often looked down upon as not good enough for promising students or as a legitimate gateway into a successful career. Kurt explains that this is mostly an American view, as Europe has long viewed learning and mastering a trade as a proper way to begin a career and life as an adult. 

Lee shares that while his children are attending university, they have a clear goal in mind. The problem isn’t that the traditional college route is wrong - it’s that it is often wasted and is perceived as the only path to success. That simply isn’t the case. Both Lee and Kurt believe that low trade school attendance and acceptance has to do with the fact that people simply don’t understand the value of what is being taught. The manufacturing world, especially, is still viewed as the dirty factory work that we all want to avoid and escape. Manufacturing, however, has become one of the most modernized and technological industries in the world. The robotics, engineering, building, and software developed and utilized within the manufacturing industry is extremely cutting-edge. The challenge is to overcome the misperceptions surrounding trade schools and machining and to effectively share the opportunity of a machining certification. 

Machining trade schools offer modern, effective, and exciting opportunities 

Forget the old days of dirty shop floors and being “doomed” to dangerous factory work. The modern world of machining and manufacturing is filled with incredible technology. Kurt explains that while students in machining trade schools are required to learn all the basics of machining, they are exposed to the many specializations that are available, including robotics, CNC machining, inspection, Master CAM, and CMM. Every one of NTMA’s students learns turning and milling and the fundamentals of machining so that they understand how everything is made. The program can be completed in as little as seven months, with daily hands-on instruction. Students graduate with a certification and are guided and encouraged in their job-finding journey. Many leave with job offers and the promise of an exciting and lucrative future. 

Enabling and inspiring the next generation of manufacturing leaders to take action 

Both Kurt and Lee believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel concerning the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. Many are beginning to understand and view a machining career as a valid and exciting opportunity. Kurt ensures that his presentations at job fairs and high schools accurately depict the advanced technological atmosphere that is machining. He shares the diverse culture of the manufacturing world as well. It’s not just men, but women as well, who are finding meaningful work in an industry where their talents are valued. Both young and old are finding new purpose and life in manufacturing.

Lee knows that the manufacturing industry is all about giving back. Many who are in the industry grew up in it and have been a part of the Metal Working Nation for generations. Lee and Kurt believe that investing in the next generation of machinists is vital to the health of the industry. Being able to provide scholarships to currently enrolled students in technical fields of study is a huge part of keeping the manufacturing future strong. Be sure to listen to the whole episode for ideas on how you - as a manufacturing leader - can get involved! 

Guiding students’ expectations towards a stable and meaningful future

Kurt explains that many of the students who go to the NTMA training centers are excited about the opportunities ahead. Kurt makes sure, however, that they understand the level of hard work required. No, they aren’t going to make 100k in their first couple of years as machinists, but what they do have to look forward to is a lifelong career built on engaging and purposeful work. They can grow as fast as they want in the industry - there’s no limit to what they can learn and accomplish. They are investing in a career that can offer them a sense of pride in their labor and skillset, opportunities in aerospace and government - all while supplying them with a stable career that will enhance their marriage and family life. It takes work. But what an incredible opportunity! 

Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • The college price-tag keeps climbing.
  • NTMA Training Centers provide an alternative education route. 
  • The California Manufacturing Workforce Foundation enables students to achieve their goals.
  • Why do parents and teachers continue to look down on trade schools? 
  • Machining trade schools help close the manufacturing skills gap. 
  • Technological advancements in manufacturing are enticing incentives. 
  • The diverse and rich culture of the manufacturing industry. 
  • Machining trade schools offer a promising and lucrative future. 

Tools & Takeaways

This Week’s Superstar Guests: Kurt Preisendanz & Lee Norton

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