HUNTINGTON — During the pandemic, Tad Robinette, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former LAPD patrol officer, was looking for something to occupy his time. Therefore, he decided to enroll in an accelerated machinist training program at RCBI.
“You can’t tell someone like me that you’re going to give me all this high-tech training and you’re not going to charge me for it,” said Robinette, whose training was covered by the pre-apprenticeship program. RCBI military. . “I immediately said, ‘Sign me up!'”
After the first 100 hours of practical instruction, Robinette returned to RCBI for 40 hours of even more advanced training, traveling to Huntington almost daily from his home in Kanawha County.
Robinette recently turned her newfound skills into a business by starting her own metalworking company, Liberty Hill Company. The Kanawha County resident landed his first contract after RCBI connected him with another West Virginia manufacturer looking to outsource precision parts production.
Following the shared manufacturing model where RCBI provides equipment and expertise while customers provide an operator and raw materials, Robinette has embarked on the production of 600 airflow deflectors used in the energy. He soon realized that the traditional manufacture of parts one by one on a computer-controlled factory was time-consuming and eating into his profits.
Robinette came up with the idea of a jig – a specialized device to hold metal being machined and guide the tools that shape it, which would allow him to produce multiple parts at once, reducing set-ups and changes. machine. He had met design engineer Morgan Smith while training at RCBI.
“A few steps away there was a guy who could take my idea and turn it into a three-dimensional object,” Robinette explained.
Smith produced 3D renderings of Robinette’s design and then 3D printed prototypes for testing. After adjustments, Robinette machined the aluminum jig, allowing him to produce several parts simultaneously.
“It allowed me to manufacture 20 parts at a time, turning raw material into components worth hundreds of dollars in minutes, not only reducing my manufacturing costs, but increasing productivity and production,” said- he declared.
Robinette said Smith’s expertise also resulted in additional cost savings.
“Morgan was able to calculate the forces the jig would experience,” he said. “By determining the required tensile strength of the part, he concluded that I could make the part out of aluminum rather than the more expensive steel, which would save additional money.
“RCBI is a one-stop-shop for everything you need, from training to design engineering to production support,” Robinette said. “The model created here clearly works. I am proof.
Officials at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington say they cannot produce machinists and welders fast enough to meet industry demand.
“That’s why we’re expanding our programs and developing new initiatives to train more manufacturing workers faster,” said Mike Friel, director of communications at RCBI.
The Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University is a manufacturing technology center whose mission is to encourage job creation, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting manufacturing companies of all sizes . Its education programs help students build the skills necessary to earn nationally recognized certifications and earn college credit toward an associate’s degree along the way.
Derek Scarbro, RCBI’s assistant manager and director of business development, said current efforts include expanding the machinist/CNC technology program by opening a new facility at 100 Angus E. Peyton Drive in South Charleston.
“We are in the process of opening and plan to open by Labor Day,” Scarbro said.
The South Charleston location will offer the same machinist training offered at Huntington but on a much larger scale, according to Scarbro.
“We will partner with local community colleges to allow individuals to take training through our accelerated program, as well as short-term trainings,” he said. “We will also provide training for current manufacturing employees to upgrade or train in different skill sets. We offer flexible student training for hands-on training that we can customize for businesses at our institution or their institution. »
RCBI now offers students the opportunity to complete its two-year program in 18 months.
“It’s offered in our machinist/CNC technology program,” Scarbro said. “We hope to be able to work on offering it in our welding program in the future.”
Students take summer courses and additional courses throughout the year so they can graduate sooner.
“Many students take advantage of this and get to work earlier,” he said.
RCBI is also launching a new class of RecoveryWorks, its initiative to train formerly incarcerated people for manufacturing jobs.
“It will launch on June 8 and we currently have nine people interested and we are still in the process of recruiting more,” Scarbro said. “The free four-week educational program is open to people in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky who want to explore career opportunities in manufacturing.”
Participants receive hands-on machinist training in the operation of rolling mills and computer numerical control (CNC) lathes, as well as classroom and online courses in blueprint reading, math, precision measurement, design computer aided and security.
Scarbro said an $8 per hour stipend is paid at the end of the program and funding is also available to help with travel. There is also peer counseling to support emotional development, particularly around maintaining sobriety or relating to family and friends struggling with addiction.
“RecoveryWorks provides a structured pathway for reintegration into the workforce,” said Carol Howerton, RCBI’s Senior Strategic Advisor for Workforce Development. “Participants must be impacted by the opioid epidemic in some way, either through self-recovery or through dealing or having dealt with family or friends struggling with a related disorder. to substance use.”
RCBI partners with support organizations and private industry to provide a holistic approach that better prepares individuals to find and keep employment, Howerton said.
Marshall University’s CORE (Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment) program and Catholic Charities West Virginia help identify candidates for the program and provide counseling and soft skills training.
Scarbro said RCBI also created an Army to Manufacturing program to help veterans and transitioning military personnel move into computer-controlled machine operator positions or start their own manufacturing businesses.
“It started earlier this year,” he said. “This is a 100 hour five week short term training course, half online and half with equipment and staff. Often there is no cost to the veteran.
“Manufacturers in our area have openings for machinists,” Howerton said. “This program will increase the talent pool while creating employment opportunities. Veterans tend to make great machinists due to the discipline they learned in the military as well as the attention to detail and follow through required. Employers constantly tell us that they like to hire veterans because they are reliable.
RCBI offers the program in partnership with Mountwest Community and Technical College. Participants in the 60-hour training course will receive hands-on instruction in the operation of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling machines and lathes as well as blueprint reading, precision measurement and safety with additional online training via Tool U-SME.
Howerton said no experience is necessary. Financial aid is available through the GI Bill, the Veterans Readiness and Employment Program, and scholarships through Mountwest.
Scarbro said RCBI has opened a booth at the Huntington Mall to tell more people about training options for these in-demand professions.
“It’s right next to center court and offers information about our training programs,” he said. “It will be open until June 15.”
West Virginia added 300 manufacturing jobs in March and April and 1,200 last year, according to Workforce West Virginia.
“Nucor, Green Power Motor Company and others have pledged to create at least 1,500 manufacturing jobs in southern West Virginia over the next two years,” Friel said. “We know from talking to company representatives that among the workers they need are welders and machinists.
Friel says RCBI’s B2BWV website provides manufacturers with a free and convenient platform on which to advertise jobs and individuals with an up-to-date list of available positions.
“Our students are in high demand,” said Charlotte Weber, Director and CEO of RCBI. “Over 95% find employment in the professions they have chosen, often even before graduating. At RCBI, we pride ourselves on educating and preparing individuals for well-paying jobs while meeting industry demand for skilled workers.