New machining program available to Roanoke City Public School students

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 10:22 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - An open house was held Tuesday afternoon to show off a new machining lab in Roanoke City’s Technical Educational Center. Leaders say the lab will help students find jobs.

Virginia Western Community College is moving its Machining Program to Roanoke City Public Schools. In the past students had attended the program at Goodwill Industries.

“Our students don’t like to leave their home campuses to take other classes. So, to bring the machinery here, to bring the program here to them – it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Roanoke City Public Schools Career and Technical Education Director Kathleen Duncan.

The move expands technical program opportunities for kids to choose from in the Star City.

“To provide training,” explained Virginia Western Community College Stem and Workforce Solutions Dean Amy White. “So, that these students can leave high school and immediately enter the workforce in excellent paying jobs with a lot of potential of upward mobility.”

Graduating students who decide to enter the workforce will help fill the need for staff in the area.

“The valley is so desperate for new machinists, younger machinists trying to take on the role of the older machinist. learning from them,” said retired Director of Operations Daniel Hughes.

Hughes says the training gives graduates an advantage in the field.

“They can run machines, program machines, set up machines,” added Hughes. “Where if you were coming out of high school with no experience whatsoever, you would be starting very at the bottom to where you’re just learning the techniques.”

As manufacturing businesses decide to expand – they hope having trained skilled workers attracts them to the area.

“So, a lot of folks that would be looking to relocate or locate businesses in this region want to know that we have an appropriately trained and competent workforce,” said White.

School leaders say the partnership aligns with the Superintendent’s Equity in Action Project.

“We’re expanding career and technical education opportunities for all students within Roanoke City with the opening of our new DAYTEC center this fall and now with the precision machining program here at ROTEC at Patrick Henry Campus,” said Duncan.

Virginia Western and Roanoke City plan to open the lab after school hours to adults wishing to learn.