BATON ROUGE — Louisiana will become the first state in the U.S. to install advanced 5-axis machining centers at every community and technical college in the state.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Haas Automation Inc. announced the partnership Thursday.
The Universal Machining Centers from Haas enable the automated production of parts on five vertical, horizontal and rotational axes at one time. CNC, or computer numerical control, automation enables a trained operator to oversee production with accuracy, precision and efficiency.
Job candidates with 5-axis CNC skills are highly sought-after by advanced manufacturers, which is why Louisiana Economic Development’s LED FastStart® program and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System created the partnership to install the equipment at every LCTCS college.
“Louisiana wants to be known as a global leader in manufacturing,” Edwards said. “And that is why we are investing in the highest-quality manufacturing equipment on our LCTCS campuses to ensure our future workforce is an outstandingly well-prepared workforce. We are proud to team with Haas to create this first-in-the-nation partnership.”
This year, LED FastStart earned an 11th consecutive No. 1 national ranking from “Business Facilities” for providing the best workforce training and talent attraction in the nation. Editor in Chief Jack Rogers said, “Nobody is faster at adapting new technologies and the tools needed to recruit and train a skilled workforce in today’s highly competitive market.”
Since 2008, FastStart has delivered a half-million hours of customized training to more than 31,000 employees of expanding Louisiana companies.
“This partnership is really unprecedented,” said Director of Education Toni Neary at the Lafayette-based Haas Factory Outlet, which is supplying the dozen Haas machining centers. “LED FastStart is stepping up to not only provide industry-leading 5-axis machining centers, they’re covering the costs for all necessary tooling, workholding and rigging — making this a turnkey solution for each school.
“We’re also excited that the Gene Haas Foundation is jumping on-board by providing scholarships for teachers and students to get this program off the ground.”
By building machining skills, LED FastStart targets a wider spectrum of manufacturers, including those in the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, while enhancing the competitiveness of existing manufacturers in the state.
“Keeping Louisiana’s community and technical colleges equipped with the latest technology allows us to train individuals for advanced manufacturing jobs,” said Paul Helton, executive director of LED FastStart. “A highly skilled workforce positions our state as both an attractive location for industry and a training leader.”
Schools receiving Haas UMC-500 equipment and training packages are:
- Baton Rouge Community College,
- Bossier Parish Community College,
- Central Louisiana Technical Community College,
- Delgado Community College,
- Fletcher Technical Community College,
- Louisiana Delta Community College,
- Northshore Technical Community College,
- Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College,
- Nunez Community College,
- River Parishes Community College,
- South Louisiana Community College-Young Memorial Campus, and
- SOWELA Technical Community College.
“LED FastStart has been a tremendous partner for Louisiana’s community and technical colleges for many years and this strategic investment in our schools and our people is yet another example of their commitment to talent and workforce development,” LCTCS President Monty Sullivan said. “Advanced manufacturing remains an in-demand and high-wage profession. Providing 12 new 5-Axis Universal Machining Centers to our colleges is a game-changer for our instructors, students and industry partners.”
Released in early 2019, the Haas UMC-500 requires little more floorspace than earlier-generation machining centers and has a base price beginning just under $125,000, said Scott Myre, president of Haas Factory Outlet/Trident Southeast LLC, which distributes and services the equipment for several states, including Louisiana, and the Caribbean.
“Only a few years ago, 5-axis machine technology was cost-prohibitive for most, but that’s quickly changing with technology like the UMC-500,” he said. “LED FastStart is way ahead of the curve by recognizing the growing trend toward 5-axis machining and the benefits the state will have with an upskilled workforce.”
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