Companies' generosity gives Penn College students access to high-end CNC machine

March 22, 2019

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — An industry staple, computer numerical control machines are a common sight in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s automated manufacturing lab. Students operate the 17 CNC units daily to master the intricacies of using computer software to control the machines’ tools in shaping metal.

A recent addition to the CNC collection has changed the lab’s landscape. At 8 feet wide and 10 feet tall, the 18,000-pound unit towers above other instructional equipment in the 12,000-square-foot facility. The Genos M560 vertical machine center — built by the Okuma Corp. — makes quite the impression. More importantly, it offers students another valuable learning experience.

“It’s certainly a higher-end CNC unit,” said Richard K. Hendricks Jr., instructor and department head of automated manufacturing and machining. “It goes beyond the machines we typically have access to. If we were comparing it to a car, this would be like a Mercedes or BMW.”

The $185,000 machine will be parked at the college through May, thanks to a collaboration with Gosiger, a family-owned and operated machine tool distributor, and Lycoming Engines, the Williamsport-based manufacturer of aircraft engines.

Gosiger loaned the machine to the college at the beginning of the semester. Lycoming Engines is scheduled to purchase the unit from Gosiger this spring but will keep it on campus until the end of the semester.

“We are pleased to be part of this corporate and business partnership with Lycoming Engines and Penn College,” said Randy Ditch, Gosiger East Coast Region president. “It is important that industry partners with education to give students experience with different technology, especially high-level technology like the Genos M560. This is a way that we can help education help our current and future customers’ workforce needs.”

“This is a great opportunity to provide students with experience on equipment that is widely used at Lycoming Engines,” said Gregg Shimp, vice president of Integrated Operations. “We appreciate the kind of education provided by Penn College because graduates who come to us are prepared from the very beginning. Our workforce continues to grow and career opportunities at Lycoming Engines continue to grow. This equipment helps further enhance the students’ experiences and our future workforce.”

A longtime supporter of the college, Lycoming Engines employs more than 150 Penn College graduates from a variety of majors.

“As part of the agreement, we will train Lycoming employees on the unit, since they have about 20 of the various high-end Okuma machines,” Hendricks said. “We will also offer training for other companies who have the machine in their facility.”

Workforce Development at the college will coordinate the training.

The majority of instructional time will be devoted to tomorrow’s industry professionals. Hendricks estimated that more than 40 manufacturing students will work on the unit throughout the semester as part of their coursework.

“I think it will increase students’ market value,” Hendricks said. “This unit adds a level of automation that your average college student doesn’t see.”

The three-axis machine includes a five-axis option, allowing for the shaping of extremely complex parts. It features a digital wireless tool setter, an optional shower unit for the coolant system, and a tool management system that can be integrated with a variety of software.

Hendricks also is impressed by the unit’s “lights out machining” capability.

“I can put three or four of the same tools in the machine, and it will monitor the power consumption of the tools,” he explained. “When a tool starts getting dull and using more horsepower, the machine will sense that and activate another tool.”

“We are extremely grateful for this collaboration with Gosiger and Lycoming Engines,” said Elizabeth A. Biddle, director of corporate relations at Penn College. “Exposure to the vertical machine center has been invaluable to our students this semester. We hope to continue to offer such unique learning opportunities through the Gosiger and Lycoming collaboration, so our students are in the best position to meet industry needs.”

Demand for the college’s manufacturing graduates has never been higher, according to Hendricks.

“Many of our students have jobs lined up prior to graduation, and they are starting at anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour,” he said.

Penn College offers a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology and associate degrees in automated manufacturing technology, machine tool technology and metal fabrication technology.

For information on those majors and other programs offered by the School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520 or visit www.pct.edu/icet.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development. Visit www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Last Updated March 22, 2019