Daley College instructor Juan Martinez discuss a Computerized Numerical Control lathe with Diana Trujillo, workforce engagement director at Greater Southwest Development Corporation. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Steve Metsch

Daley College instructor Juan Martinez discuss a Computerized Numerical Control lathe with Diana Trujillo, workforce engagement director at Greater Southwest Development Corporation. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Steve Metsch

‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’ in gear-making

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Daley College cuts ribbon on machining center

By Steve Metsch

Glancing around the new American Gear Manufacturers Association National Center in partnership with Daley College, Michael McKernin said “if I could hire six guys right now, I’d hire them.”

Such is the need for well-trained people in the machining and manufacturing industry, he said.

That made last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new training center, located in Building 300 at the northeast corner of the Daley College campus, 7500 S. Pulaski, all the more important.

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Daley College instructor Juan Martinez discuss a Computerized Numerical Control lathe with Diana Trujillo, workforce engagement director at Greater Southwest Development Corporation. –Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Steve Metsch

McKernin, 62, serves on the association’s board of directors, has worked in the industry for 40 years and is chief operating officer for Milan’s Machining & Manufacturing in Cicero.

“It’s not a real sexy job, is it? Making gears. But we need gears,” he said.

McKernin noted that gears play a role in everyday life, be they in toys, airplanes, dishwashers and countless other items.

“The bridges downtown. Every vehicle that goes across that bridge,” he added.

“We still need to teach people how to make parts. It’s getting people into the hands-on work. You can call it blue collar, but it’s important.”

“Working with Daley, we can provide not only the machining end, which they teach, but we specialize in teaching how to make gears. So, it’s a good combination working with the school,” McKernin said.

Daley College President Janine Janosky and American Gear Manufacturers Association President Mathew Croson were beaming during the Aug. 24 ceremony attended by representatives of many companies in the industry.

The association has enjoyed a relationship with Daley College since 1993, Corson said.

“But when they put up the brand-new building, they didn’t need the rest (of the buildings). We came to them and said we’d love to take this over,” he said outside the one-story, 10,000-square foot building.

“We put the gear-oriented machinery into the facility and we’ll be hosting all our classes here,” Croson said.

There are older machines and cutting-edge, along with a large classroom.

“The partnership allows us to invited (Daley College) students to attend our training, come to open houses, learn about the gear industry, so we can bridge some of the 12,000 students into our industry,” he said.

Noting the starting salary can be $60,000 to $70,000, Croson said that’s very appealing to many students.

The association will contribute $40,000 a year to Daley College to use the center, he said. “It’s a nice trade-off,” he said.

The center offers a win-win situation, many said during the ceremony and reception that followed.

Janosky said the focus of a community college is on community, and that includes industry.

“As we think of our preparing that work force, relationships with industry and partners is crucial,” she said.

About 500 students study manufacturing at Daley College, she said.

“We have an advanced manufacturing program at Daley College, but through this relationship they have extra opportunities to focus on gear manufacturing and industry needs and how those are integral to success as manufacturers,” Janosky said.

Juan Martinez, an instructor at Daley College, is happy to see the training center.

“It will continue what we started,” Martinez said. “This place will be used for education, a place to get the skills.”

Martinez showed how a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Haas Lathe works to Diana Trujillo, workforce engagement director at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation.

“We’re excited,” Trujillo said. “We see a lot of projects needing workers. They’ll be able to place them in a job.”

No stranger to getting her hand greasy working on cars as the daughter of a mechanic, State Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D-22nd), said the training center promises bright futures for many.

“It creates a lot more opportunities for students when they graduate high school and they don’t want to go to a four-year university,” she said.

“We have this trade that’s available to them, affordable, and with options. I’m excited,” Guerrero-Cuellar said.

The AGMA is in its 105th year and has nearly 500 companies as members.

“We’ve got jobs, jobs, jobs if they want to work with us,” Croson added.

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