LEBANON, IN – Three years in the making, a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Vincennes University’s all-new Gene Haas Training and Education Center, took place in Lebanon, Indiana on December 9, 2015. To help fund construction of the all-new 20,000 square foot tech school, the Gene Haas Foundation provided a $1.5 million dollar grant to the City of Lebanon. As if that was not enough, a check valued at $382,400 was presented during the ribbon cutting ceremony, by Kathy Looman, Gene Haas Foundation Administrator, to provide scholarships for future students seeking an education in machining.
According to David Tucker, Vice President for Workforce Development and Community Services and Vincennes University, “One of the first classes to be held at the all-new Gene Haas Training and Education Center will be their popular CNC Machinist Now program. CNC Machinist NOW is a 15-week, 600 hour training program designed primarily for veterans.”
Students attending VU’s all-new Gene Haas Training and Education Center, will gain plenty of hands-on experience with over a dozen state-of-the-art Haas CNC machine tools under power within the facility. Produced exclusively in Southern California, these Haas machining centers and CNC lathes will provide students the opportunity to learn on modern equipment used throughout the world to produce high-precision parts from raw metals and alloys.
In just a few short months, word of VU’s Machinist Now program at the Gene Haas Training and Education Center has already spread beyond the borders of Indiana, reaching as far as Eastern, KY and West Virginia where some 23,000 coal miners have lost their jobs. In July, 3 men from Eastern Kentucky graduated from the Machinist Now program and have been placed in full time jobs at Lockheed Martin, with 5 more enrolled that are likely to receive similar jobs upon completion. These jobs typically earn in excess of $50,000 plus benefits and overtime.
In fact, the demand for and success of this program has led to efforts by the Governor of Kentucky (Matt Bevins-R) to build a similar program in Eastern Kentucky. In fact, in July Governor Bevins announced a $100 million re-training initiative along with ongoing funding by the US Sen. Majority Leader. (Mitch McConnell-R).
“We’re extremely proud of this new facility and the partnership we’ve put together with Vincennes University,” states Dave Tucker, President of HFO/Midwest. “Local manufacturers that visit will see the latest in technology on display, as well as be able to meet and see the next generation of machinists being educated in a modern facility equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. This is truly unique and will go a long way toward helping address the needs of Indiana’s manufacturing community and beyond”.
Vincennes University’s ICAT/HTEC facility (located in Vincennes, IN), is equipped with 14 Haas CNC machine tools, the first of which were installed over 10 years ago. Ironically, three current employees of the two locally based Haas Factory Outlets (HFO/Chicago and HFO/Midwest), Coby Smith, Ben Gordon and Greg Pratt are all graduates of VU.
HFO/Chicago also enjoys a statewide agreement with Ivy Tech Community College and has a long standing relationship with Purdue University. Additional HTEC Member schools within the State of Indiana include; University of Southern Indiana, Valparaiso University, Porter County Career & Technical Education Center, Prosser School of Technology, Kokomo Career Center, Loogootee Community School Corp, Monroe County Community School Corporation, C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, Elkhart Area Career Center, Bellmont High School, Pike Central High School, Terre Haute North High School, Terre Haute South Vigo High School and Logansport High School, to name a few.
“Indiana’s statewide commitment to manufacturing education was a key factor when choosing the site for the Gene Haas Training Center,” states Tim Taylor, Vice President HFO/Chicago. “I completed my Apprenticeship through the NTMA, which was the springboard for my manufacturing career. HFO/Midwest is proud to support the INTMA in its efforts to revitalize the skilled trades.”
You might think a large donation to a technical school is unique, or rare. You might also assume that technical schools like VU are fading out. Neither are true, thanks in large part to the generosity of Gene Haas and the Gene Haas Foundation. Each year several donations like these are made, which to date totals over $30 million dollars amongst more than 1,200 charitable organizations and schools.
“The Gene Haas Foundation was created in 1999 by Gene Haas, Founder and President of Haas Automation, Inc. and reflects Haas’ commitment to the manufacturing industry in the USA and manufacturing education, states Kathy Looman, Foundation Administrator. This year alone the Gene Haas Foundation is granting over $9 million dollars to manufacturing education in the form of scholarships, inspiring young people to explore manufacturing as a career and program support.”
During a similar dedication, Gene Haas was asked to speak about a profession in manufacturing. “It’s a great profession. There’s a huge demand for manufacturing in this country and there’s a lot of job openings. And most of the jobs are very high paying. Typical jobs are $30-100,000 a year. It’s not uncommon for someone as a machinist to make over $50-60,000 a year.”
The Gene Haas Foundation has also partnered with The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) in an effort to help schools prepare more students for success in precision manufacturing careers. In 2014, the Scholarship Program provided financial support to more than 1,000 individuals at 22 high schools and colleges in 16 states to pursue NIMS certification. Approximately 3,500 credentials in foundational CNC machining will be earned as a result.
The 2016 GHF-NIMS Credentialing Scholarship Program launched this year with a $100,000 investment from GHF and will provide eligible secondary and post-secondary institutions with grants to build high-quality technical programs that provide students with foundational skills and industry-recognized credentials that have immediate value in the job market. The grants will cover up to 100% of the costs of testing and credentialing services for all students seeking NIMS certifications.
Another program Gene Haas has spear headed to support the next generation of machinists is the Haas Technical Education Center Network (HTEC). HTEC is an industry & education led initiative that enables technical schools to acquire state-of-the-art CNC machine tools and related CNC ancillary equipment, software and educational materials at significantly reduced costs. The goal being to provide students with a relevant, high tech and hands-on educational experience.
HTEC also provides a forum to connect nearly 3,000 educators across the globe, encouraging collaboration via an online portal that is free to Member schools. In addition, the HTEC Network organizes state and regional CNC educator conferences each year. These one-day events are hosted at Member schools and are free to all educators. An annual, 4-day Americas CNC Educators Conference is also held, typically in July. This year the HTEC Network hosted its 10th annual HTEC Conference at Central Maine Community College, which attracted 220 educators from around the word, some traveling as far as South Africa.
Finally, HTEC has developed a CNC Teacher Training Program, which is offered at select Member schools. Vincennes University’s ICAT-HTEC Training Center in Vincennes, Indiana, was the first to offer such a program, which combines an online & resident program that provides intensive hands-on CNC teacher training modules at both basic and advanced levels and includes NIMS Certification.
Following are some encouraging numbers provided by Bob Skodzinsky, President of HTEC that should excite INTMA members… To date, there are over 7,500 Haas CNC machine tools installed among 2,900 schools worldwide, nearly 2,000 of which are in the United States. This ensures students who graduate from these schools are work-ready CNC machinists, programmers & engineers prepared for today’s industrial employers and the manufacturing challenges.
So who is this man, Gene Haas? Haas is the founder and owner of Haas Automation, Inc., America’s leading manufacturer of CNC machine tools. Founded in 1983, Haas has grown to become a billion dollar revenue generating company that designs, engineers and builds some of the industry’s most popular machining centers and turning centers on the market today. All Haas CNC machine tools and rotary products are made in the USA and distributed through a worldwide network of more than 170 Haas Factory Outlets (HFO’s), including HFO/Midwest which has been the exclusive distributor in Indiana for over 20 years.
Haas and his brand are also heavily tied to the world of motorsports, as the owner of Haas F1 Team and part owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. Haas F1 Team is the 1st American owned team in more than 20 years, and has already earned 28 constructor team points (making them 8th overall) in the first few months of their inaugural season… A feat unheard-of during an F1 team’s freshman.
Gene Haas has also enjoyed a wining partnership with Indiana native Tony Stewart (in NASCAR) fielding four entries in the elite Sprint Cup Series – the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet for Danica Patrick and the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet for Kurt Busch. Founded in 2013, Stewart-Haas Racing has won 2 Sprint Cup Championships, 35 checkered flags and 32 poles.