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
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 www.vinu.edu.
Vincennes University Newsroom
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
Communications Coordinator & Online Newsroom Manager
812-888-4162 office, 812-887-4635 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu,
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University