Ridgewater Machine Tool Program to Expand to Willmar Campus
November 1, 2021
WILLMAR and HUTCHINSON, MN – Expanding programs for broader accessibility is a great way to meet industry needs. Ridgewater College is proud to announce that its long-standing Machine Tool Technology program on the Hutchinson campus will expand to the Willmar campus beginning January 2022.
The Machine Tool program teaches students advanced manufacturing skills, including foundational mill and lathe equipment and advanced Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining skills to cut, shape and drill metal or plastic parts. It’s the CNC portion of the program that will be newly available in Willmar.
“We are so excited for prospective students!” said Matt Feuerborn, one of Ridgewater’s deans of instruction for technical programs. “This hands-on, high-tech manufacturing program will now serve students in the Willmar area with a new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Technician Diploma.”
The Machine Tool program has been available in Hutchinson for about 20 years after relocation from the Willmar campus.
“The expansion back to Willmar is something we’ve talked about for a while,” Feuerborn said. “It’s exciting to know we have industry partners who are ready to commit to advance their employees’ skills. Together, we are collaborating to meet industry’s high demand for skilled workers.”
The new 32-credit CNC Machine Technician Diploma will also be available in Hutchinson. It will round out other current Hutchinson offerings that include CNC Precision Manufacturing Technician (AAS, diploma and certificate) and the Machining Technician (diploma).
In addition to the expansion news, Machine Tool instructor Greg Ryder announced another change for students. The entire program is maintaining some of what worked well the last 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Students have been quite successful in learning the safety and theory behind machining via online delivery of content and then coming to the campus shop to apply and experience what they’ve learned,” Ryder said. Rather than being on campus five days a week, students condensed their lab time to two days.
With the new blended online and on-campus format, students are better able to juggle school and work, students have told instructors. Demand for machinists has been so great recently that many students are working in the industry while attending Ridgewater. With just two scheduled days of required shop time on campus now, students can work their jobs the other days and do their homework when it works for them.
“The expansion to Willmar and the expansion to include online learning are definite wins for students,” Feuerborn said. Instructors will have two scheduled shop days in Willmar for those students and two different shop days in Hutchinson to ensure students get the hands-on experience and instructor attention they need.
To learn more about the Machine Tool Technology program, go to www.ridgewater.edu/machinetool. To learn more about admissions, scholarships, and financial aid and to meet the instructors, schedule a visit in Willmar or Hutchinson at www.ridgewater.edu/visit.
Cutline: Learning high-tech, machining is the goal of a new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Technician Diploma that will be available through Ridgewater College at both Willmar and Hutchinson campuses. This will be the first time in about 20 years that the Machine Tool Technology program will have training in Willmar. The option requires just two days a week on campus.