Vincennes University has hand in award-winning high school precision machining program

Vincennes University has hand in award-winning high school precision machining program

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May 20, 2019

May 20, 2019 / Vincennes University has hand in award-winning high school precision machining program

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University is partners with an award-winning high school program, and together they’re growing the pipeline of highly skilled advanced manufacturing talent.

The White River Valley High School Precision Machining program is being celebrated as a winner of an Indiana Uplands Regional Innovation Award. The program received the Pathway Innovation of the Year award in April. It is awarded to a K-12 or postsecondary pathway in advanced manufacturing, defense, healthcare, life sciences, or technology that aligns student learning with the employment ecosystem of the Uplands region.

The program is a collaboration among White River Valley School Corporation in Greene County, VU, and the Purdue University Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Now in its second year, and the program’s instructor is Matthew Birt, a VU graduate with degrees in precision machining and advance manufacturing.

Students learn highly sought skills in advanced manufacturing. They earn three industry certifications through the Purdue Skills for Success program prior to their junior year of high school. Students then move into a dual-credit program where they earn credit through a partnership with VU during their junior and senior years.

VU was instrumental helping develop the educational pipeline serving WRV machining students. Playing critical roles were Scott Wallace, VU precision machining program coordinator and associate professor, and Jonathan Vennard, VU advanced CNC and programming instructor.

“We provided the curriculum. We gave them suggestions and helped them decide what equipment to order. Jonathan got the lab all set up and taught the first semester,” Wallace said.

In February WRV hosts an open-house recruiting event for freshmen and sophomores and their families where they observe students working on projects and interact with Birt.

“I inform the students and their parents about the demand for machinist jobs and the salary you can make from it,” Birt said. “I tell them how good a job VU does with job placement during and after school. The students love the fact of most of the work being hands-on. They also love the fact that it gets them jump-started on a career and get dual credit with Vincennes University.”

He expressed appreciation for the program’s recognition and is excited about its future.

“I was shocked to hear that we had received this award,” Birt said. “We strive to teach the highest level of integrity with business interactions, produce parts to the highest quality, and provide a working environment that allows each student to reach their highest potential. These students take pride in making these projects and love being able to show them off. In the two years I have been teaching, there has been a 100 percent graduation rate as well as each student graduates with some sort of scholarship.”

Upon completing the program, students possess the training to work with organizations like Metal Technologies in Bloomfield or Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division in Crane, or they can continue their degree at VU in precision machining.

“The award is great for their program,” Wallace said. “We had some of Mr. Birt’s students in this year’s freshman class and they did great.”

VU has a reputation as one of the nation’s top manufacturing schools. It boasts a 100 percent placement rate for its graduates.

Demand is high for advanced manufacturing talent in Indiana. There are more than 14,900 available jobs with an hourly wage of $15-$32, according to the state’s Next Level Jobs initiative website.

“There are a lot more jobs than we have graduates,” Wallace said. “Our graduates don’t go out knocking on doors. Companies are coming here and interviewing on campus. Our graduates have a real head start to be able to go take a job and be productive quicker.”

VU offers an associate degree in precision machining technology and a baccalaureate degree in advanced manufacturing. Precision machining technology graduates can also complete a 14-week summer session, Advanced CNC Machining and Programming, which provides them with an additional 600 hours of hands-on CNC training and a second associate degree.

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College

VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper, the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers, and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.

In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.

VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 35 other states, and 17 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at


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