About to begin his senior year at Pawnee High School, Kobe Allenbaugh knows what he wants to do after graduation: become a computer numerical control machinist like his dad. “My dad is a machinist, and he’d take me to work with him sometimes. I just liked the machine shop and what they do.”
Allenbaugh took the first step toward achieving his goal by joining Meridian Technology Center’s Product Development and Machining program last year — just like his dad did several years earlier. This month, he’ll begin his second and final year of the program.
“His dad was one of my first students,” said Jimmy Williams, the program instructor at Meridian. “It’s great to have had two of them as students now.”
Williams even helped Allenbaugh’s dad, now a CNC programmer at NORDAM in Tulsa, get his first job. “It’s turned into a pretty good career for him,” said Williams.
While Allenbaugh knows that the majority of his job opportunities will be working on the pre-programmed CNC machines, his first love is working with his hands. Because of this, his machine of choice is the manual lathe. “My favorite part has been learning how the machines work and how to control them,” he said.
Allenbaugh said the most challenging part of the program so far is switching from doing everything manually to using the CNC. “With manual, you’re doing all the work hands-on, and you can stop your part in the middle and measure it. But on CNC, you have to write a whole program, and then if it is out of tolerance, you have to go back and do it over again.” Allenbaugh is ready to keep working at it, though, and said he’s excited to learn more about the CNC this year.
At the end of the program, Allenbaugh will have the skills needed to test for a variety of industry certifications through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Allenbaugh said that this program has also taught him life skills like how to develop a résumé and succeed in a job interview.
CNC machinists and programmers are on O*NET’s list of Bright Outlook Occupations, which are occupations projected to have an employment increase of 10% or more between 2016 and 2026. These CNC jobs are specifically projected to grow “much faster than average” at 16% nationally and 14% statewide. O*NET is a federally sponsored program that provides up-to-date, nationwide information on almost 1,000 occupations to help people “find the training and jobs they need, and employers the skilled workers necessary to be competitive in the workplace.”
To learn more about the Product Development and Machining program, visit meridiantech.edu/cnc.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.