New mechanical technology program aids students in vocational careers

Architecture+and+engineering+chair%2C+Daniel+Abbott+demonstrating+new+Digital+Position+Readout+on+the+metal+lathes+that+have+been+there+for+years+in+metal+shop+%28Gustavo+Vasquez%2F+The+Inquirer%29.

Architecture and engineering chair, Daniel Abbott demonstrating new Digital Position Readout on the metal lathes that have been there for years in metal shop (Gustavo Vasquez/ The Inquirer).

Gustavo Vasquez

New opportunities arise at Diablo Valley College for students wanting to get a career in local industries.

MTECH is a new program that was added this semester. Students can now join a certificate/degree program that’s geared towards gaining jobs in local industries such as refineries, chemical plants, water utilities and steel manufacturing.

Grant Gregory teaches in the mTECH program and explained what students can gain from the program.

“We are teaching students to become viable industrial mechanics,” Gregory said. “They are not your ordinary car mechanic. They will be able to go to a refinery and be a maintenance mechanic. They learn the basic knowledge to go to the institutions to perform… they are getting specific training on, pumps valves, hydraulics, everything needed to work in an oil refinery.”

As of right now, the program is trying to coordinate with other local community colleges to offer courses to fulfill some of the required classes for the program.

Daniel Abbott, chair of the department, explained how an old machine shop on campus became a visible solution to house mTECH.

“MTECH is a program that we developed to reactivate the machine shop and provide students training to work as mechanics, maintenance technicians, and machinists in local industry,” Abbott said. “DVC has a fairly large machine shop – around 4,000 square feet of space with a large number of tools that are in excellent condition. For many years the shop ran with students training to learn to use the lathes, mills, and a variety of other tools like the drill press, band saw and all sorts of hand tools.”

Currently, the program is within its first semester of its launch. While many students are unaware of this newly available program, mTECH will soon start to advertise the program and bring it to the map. Right now, it has only been course advertised in the catalog only.

Grants like the “Design it-Build it-Ship it” and “National Science Foundation” helped bring the shop up to date with new equipment, supplies, and support. Digital position readouts are just one of the many things which were bought for the program to bring it up to date. There is a digital manufacturing component to the national science foundation grant, and the shop and program will soon acquire computer controlled machines.

As of right now, there aren’t any internships or employment agreements for students to get jobs right out of the program because of the recency of the program. Marilyn Ashlin, project coordinator of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) explains.

“If some students start completing it, then will will get more active in developing entry level and internships opportunities with those employers,” said Ashlin.

Daniel Abbott has high hopes for the program, and what will happen to students after.

“The program leads to a number of well paying jobs with employers in the region who need technicians and skilled mechanical support staff that can work on large industrial equipment and facilities”.

– Collin James contributed to this story.