Manufacturing Partnership is the Crown Jewel
for New Castle, Indiana Career Center
The New Castle Career Center at New Castle High School has much to be proud of. More than 2500 dual credits are earned by students for college every year. 68% of its students go on to post-secondary education following graduation. 99% attain the technical skills needed for entry-level positions.
One of the center’s 17 career tracks, the machining program, has also distinguished itself with a unique manufacturing partnership. The program, now entering its 4th academic term, trains students on some of the industry’s most advanced CNC machinery – and qualifies them for what has proven to be a virtually seamless transition into well-paying positions in manufacturing.
New Castle’s Machining Program is not new. But it faced some uncertainty when a teaching vacancy unexpectedly occurred late in July, 2014. With school reconvening in just days, the options were to put the program on hold, or put an educator with no hands-on machining experience in the post and continue the class using primarily textbook learning.
Shelley York, Human Resources Manager for Crown Equipment, the largest employer in New Castle, served on the Career Center’s Advisory Board, and did not like either option. “We wanted to maintain the momentum of the program, and build it – not compromise,” she explains. So York prepared a “Plan C,” a recommendation that Scott Reasoner, a Crown process technician with years of hands-on machining experience, be assigned to help teach the class. The plan was quickly approved by Crown’s President, Jim Dicke III; virtually within hours, a former Career Center machining instructor, Paul Lanzer, agreed to accept the full-time position.
Thus began a machining program built on the combined and diverse experience of two seasoned machining professionals: a machine trades instructor, and a machining process technician at one of the world’s largest material handling companies. With Lanzer instructing and managing the program, and Reasoner contributing 3 hours each week as a co-instructor, the team set its expectations high. Course work was rigorous, taught from two diverse perspectives. In-depth interviews helped each student clarify his interests and imagine a career. At the close of the academic year, a first group of graduates had earned full-time positions at Crown.
In 2016, Greg Dickerson, a seasoned machining expert and educator, succeeded Lanzer as director of the program, and the Machining program doubled its enrollment
There are 30 workstations at the Career Center, primarily CNC mills and lathes capable of exceptional accuracy. Most were purchased, with the help of grants, in 2015. In addition to machining tasks, the course encompasses metallurgy, cutting tools, manufacturing fluids, CAD/CAM, heat treating, inspection protocols – 80 specialties in all. The course also teaches blueprint reading, organizational skills, and tool management, both in the classroom and online.
“The center moved from where it was in 2014, trying to ‘salvage’ its machining program, to having a productive partnership with a world class manufacturer,” says York.
“This program has proved, more than anything, that you can develop high quality, motivated employees that leave high school with experience – and advantage.”
Crown’s impact has expanded to other career tracks as well. “We discovered that the welding class, near the end of the year, ran out of meaningful projects,” says Reasoner. “We saw this as an opportunity to fill that need using materials that were headed for scrap. We now have project managers throughout the company watching for scrap that can be used for practice.”
Crown has also engaged its production partners in the effort. Since 2014, Acculube, which provides Crown with comprehensive fluid management services for 6 of its US manufacturing plants, has supplied several of the same top-tier products (Mobil lubricants, Castrol metalworking fluids) to the Career Center as part of its own community outreach efforts.
“Like Crown,” says Acculube CEO Marilyn Kinne, “Acculube emphasizes employee development and growth. And like Crown, we believe that community involvement plays a positive role in recruiting good employees.”
Dickerson, the program manager, sees the landscape for machining turning in a positive direction. “For a long while,” he observes, “industry was in its ‘outsource’ mode. Now we face a wave of retirements in the machinist trades, with often no one to fill the spots.”
“I regularly get calls from machine shops around the region – shops that machine brass or bronze or copper – or make aerospace parts – asking about qualified graduates. This program can put students onto solid career tracks.”
“Also,” adds Reasoner, “in the past, a kid that wasn’t doing well in school was often nudged into the machine trades. Now, you have to apply, pass an interview, and be accepted. In addition, you have to have done well in math, and English, have a good attendance record – and more.”
“The future belongs to those who have drive and aptitude, and they now they have an opportunity to do well – right out of high school.”
Acculube supplies these top-tier fluids to the New Castle Career Center’s Machining Program:
- Castrol Hysol MB 50 Soluble Metalworking Fluid, a tight, stable emulsion for machining and grinding aluminum and ferrous alloys
- Mobil DTE 24 Hydraulic Oil, which provides high levels of anti-wear and film strength and is ideal for
- Mobil Vactra 1 and Vactra 2 Waylube industrial lubricants for machine tool way systems, which provide excellent demulsibility from machining coolants.
Fact: New Castle Career Center accepts students from several area high schools: Blue River, Knightstown, Shenandoah, Eastern, Handcock, Union and New Castle.