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NMJC Offers Free Workplace Tech Training

NMJC Offers Free Workplace Tech Training photo 6/29/2016 10:55:29 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story from Dorothy Fowler - Hobbs News Sun]

In Tuesday’s class, their ages ranged from 20 to early 50’s. In another, the oldest student was 62.

Whatever their age, the students enrolled in New Mexico Junior College instrumentation and controls training were getting the opportunity of a lifetime and they were getting it without it costing them a dime.

Their training started with classes on core knowledge and skills related to workplace safety, electrical laws and principles, series circuits, parallel circuits, combination circuits, introduction to mechanical systems, applied mathematics and measurements and maintenance tools and fasteners.

From there, students have a choice of studying mechanical maintenance or electrical maintenance. If they choose electrical maintenance they can go on to a course called electrical and instrumentation.

Tuesday, more than a dozen men were in a special class learning how to operate a program logic controller, a machine that can be used by any industry that has to keep up with the temperature, fluidity or numbers of a product, said Jerry Morris, facilitator of the training program at NMJC.

“This class is a special class,” Morris said. “Most of the men are already employed, although some are not, but they all have experience and skills that they want to improve either so they can keep the jobs they have or get one.” Tuesday’s class was part of a more extensive and intensive training program the college is offering in answer to needs expressed by local and area businesses.

“We had good training programs,” Jeff McCool, vie president for training and outreach said. “The missing piece was instrumentation and controls.”

New Mexico Junior College was able to supply that missing piece when it received a $2.5 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training grant from the United States Department of Labor in 2013, McCool said.

“But by the time we got the building ready and the equipment in place, the oil economy went south,” McCool said. “And that meant we needed to get as creative as we could possibly be.”

Part of that creativity was offering free training opportunities based on the TAACCCT grant that will last until December.

“After that, we don’t know exactly what will happen,” said Jaymie Freidank, director of grant programs. “We don’t know what the college would have to charge for the training, whether businesses will help with costs for students. We just have to wait and see.”

The grant expires in March 31, 2017, and the hope is that the training will have proved so valuable that both individuals and companies will want to continue to participate.

“We haven’t advertised,” Freidank said. “We’ve worked with veterans groups and with the New Mexico Labor Department to get the word out and we’re hoping how valuable it is spreads by word of mouth.”

Although people in oil country tend to believe all technology is geared only to the oil and gas industries, program logic controllers have dozens, if not hundreds of applications.

“The the technology can be used on a dairy, in plumbing, water supply, remote climate control,” McCool said.

McCool, who said he loves working with programs that lead to certification for people who are trying to improve their skills and their lives, said the college personnel in the program he leads “are always willing to make changes. We have tons of flexibility. We can make a program longer or shorter. We can take it to other places.”

“My personal mantra and the mantra of the staff in this training center is ‘Be a Difference Maker.’ And that’s what the entire staff likes to do, McCool said.

For more information about the free trainings, call Rachel Gallagher, director of outreach, at 575-492-4716.

[Photo: Jerry Morris, who calls himself a "facilitator" at the New Mexico Junior College technology training center, explains what a program logic controller does and what kinds of businesses need the technology during a training session Tuesday.]

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