Corporate Support Maximizes Students’ Experience
An example of a positive technical school/corporate relationship is that of the Ferris State University (FSU) Manufacturing Tooling Technology program (Big Rapids, Michigan) and Hurco Companies, Inc. (Indianapolis, Indiana).
Relationships established between a technical school and a corporation or professional association benefit both parties. From a school’s viewpoint, the relationship not only provides the school a network of knowledgeable people who work in the industry as well as instructor training courses, student scholarship offerings and opportunities to attend educational industry events, but also can aid financially by supplying discounted machines and funds for the facility. From a company/association’s standpoint, forming a relationship like this allows it to have a large part in preparing future generations of skilled manufacturing professionals and makes an impression on the students graduating from the program, which benefits the company/association down the road.
An example of such a positive relationship is that of the Ferris State University (FSU) Manufacturing Tooling Technology program (Big Rapids, Michigan) and Hurco Companies Inc. (Indianapolis, Indiana).
Almost 20 years ago, the FSU program made its first Hurco purchase—three KM3 CNC mills. These machines have been used by almost 1,000 students to support their real-world course projects. Throughout the past few years, the school has upgraded its machining equipment multiple times thanks to a renewed relationship between FSU professors and Hurco.
“When we reconnected with Hurco in 2002, we needed some new machines to keep our students competitive,” says Dean Krager, associate professor of the Manufacturing Tooling Technology program at FSU.
"Here’s how great Hurco is to work with—we approached the company stating that we had $72,000 cash and needed three machines. Not only did Hurco let us buy two machines at a deep discount, but they gave us a third machine to use on consignment for 2 years and told us we could buy it for the depreciated value at the end of the consignment period,” he adds.
"When all was said and done, we were able to purchase approximately $180,000 worth of equipment for $90,000,” Mr. Krager says.
He adds that Hurco’s machines are known for their flexible control and are excellent learning tools for students because the controls are easy to use, and students can apply various types of programming—including G code, both online and offline conversational, and CAM. Also, with Hurco’s DXF translation software, 2D CAD files can easily be imported and ready to run quickly.
Mr. Krager and his colleague, David Borck, associate professor at FSU, were at Hurco’s headquarters for lathe training recently for the latest addition to the school’s machining equipment—a TM6 lathe. According to Mr. Krager, the manufacturer demonstrated its commitment to the program again, but this time in a more surprising manner. “Just like before, we approached the company with limited resources. It responded with an opportunity to purchase one of its demo machines at a seriously discounted price,” he explains.
"That’s what we were expecting (a demo model), but when it arrived it was a brand new, full-optioned TM6 lathe, including a tool probing system—a brand new machine for the price of a ‘scratch and dent’ model. That’s the kind of company Hurco is. It always goes the extra mile,” Mr. Krager continues.
Hurco isn’t only generous when it comes to providing equipment to the school, however. The company also supports the program by offering educational opportunities for the students, which is equally important. Because of Hurco’s support, FSU Tooling Technology students have become increasingly involved in industry events such as the Hurco Technology Seminar and the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), which prove to be learning experiences for the students.
With more than 20 vendor exhibits, product demonstrations and seminars, the Hurco Technology Seminar enables FSU Tooling Technology students to network with influential people in the industry and learn more about the business side of manufacturing.
Additionally, the company uses FSU students in its booth at IMTS. “This kind of experience really gives students a head start. It catapults their career and complements the applied learning method we use in the Manufacturing Tooling Technology program,” Mr. Krager says.
Scholarship offerings are another way the company aids in the education of these students. The Innovative UltiMax Scholarship, which began in 2002, is a $500 scholarship awarded annually to the Manufacturing Tooling Technology student who demonstrates the most innovative use of Hurco’s equipment and/or software.
Last year, Hurco added the Introduction to Applications Engineering Scholarship, which is awarded annually to two Manufacturing Tooling Technology students. The students who receive this scholarship earn a paid, summer internship at Hurco, including room and board and paid college credit for the Introduction to Applications Engineering course.
With the help of Hurco’s partnership, Manufacturing Tooling Technology students often have numerous job offers prior to graduation. Job titles such as tool and die maker, mold maker, machine builder, CNC programmer, manufacturing technician, quality technician and technical/sales representative are all occupations that graduates from FSU’s program often explore. With additional experience and/or education, graduates often move into careers holding titles such as process engineer, tooling engineer, manufacturing engineer, project engineer and technical instructor, as well as all levels of management.
Not only does the college program benefit from this school/corporate partnership, but the corporation itself does as well. Hurco sees the Manufacturing Tooling Technology program as an investment in the future. “Hurco is proud to support such an excellent applications-based program that has been so successful in preparing generations of skilled manufacturing professionals,” says Jim Kawaguchi, general manager of Hurco.
In addition to supporting a worthy institution, the manufacturer knows its investment in education pays off in the long run. According to historical data, graduates of the program end up being decision makers for machine purchases once they’re out in industry. Because of their positive experiences with Hurco machines, they recommend Hurco to their employers.
Most importantly, the students of the Manufacturing Tooling Technology program win—earning an education that prepares them for the demands of a high-tech global economy using machines and advanced software designed for the future.