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Suncoast Technical College's CNC Machining Program places 4th place in National Competition

Sarasota County, FL, May 19, 2022 – Suncoast Technical College recently competed in the 3rd annual Project MFG National Competition for the first time. The students competed locally and then regionally to qualify for the Finals hosted by Wichita State in Kansas. Only four teams made it to the finals, and STC was one of them! 

Project MFG designs and executes tournament-style competitions across the country to demonstrate the abilities of new talent and collectively inspire a movement to restore America's industrial base. 

Competitions feature single and integrated technologies such as welding and additive manufacturing. Challenges also include team competitions using multiple technologies to create a product that requires integrated manufacturing. All competitions test the student's ability to think critically, collaborate and manage resources, and apply required technologies.

The Advanced Integrated Manufacturing contest represents a typical 2-day work period in the industry where a project has strict specifications, budget and deadline. 

STC team stands with project

STC's Precision Machining Program knew they had the students and skills to enter the competition and selected their team of four. "We needed to precision machine two components and assemble and completely weld another component. And we had to do all that in (2) 8-hour days and then submit it for inspection. One more catch, though. The machined components were recommended to be completed in a 5-axis CNC Machining center. STC does not have a 5-axis CNC machine. So we did it in our 4-axis machine. We also don't teach welding as a course. We do teach a basic introduction to welding in about one week. Nothing ventured, nothing gained." said Ed Doherty, Precision Metalworking Lead Instructor at Suncoast Technical College

picture of project component picture of side of machine student working with machine

After completing and submitting the project, the STC team found out they were headed to the regional competition in Illinois, where they would be using a Haas UMC 750 5-axis CNC machining center for the first time.

The team came together, completed all the tasks, and advanced to the Finals in Witchita.

HAAS machine student working on HAAS 750ss machine project created with machine

In the Finals, the three other teams all had experience with a Haas UMC 750 5-axis and had participated in Project MFG before. This was STC's first time. "A one-year county tech school program vs. established 2-year college programs. We had two teammates with about 7 hours of CNC 5-axis experience from Regionals in Illinois. Our Lead CadCam programmer was a high school senior that is in the ½ day CTE Program – CNC Production Specialist. But they were confident." said Ed Doherty.

Back of students wearing competition shirts

The Finals were held at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State. It was a lofty goal, with challenges and some hiccups, but the team prevailed and completed the project. At the end of the competition, STC finished 4th, and the school was awarded $2,500! In addition, each team member received $5,000 ($1,500 cash prize and $3,500 in tools)!! There were no out-of-pocket expenses for the students to compete. 

Mr. Doherty boasts, "We were able to compete with the best and learn from this challenge. We also hope to spread the word to other schools that this is a worthy competition to help our students reach higher goals.

We all really enjoyed this competition, and great to be among other skilled trades." 

STC team sitting around table giving thumbs up to camera

STC hopes to upgrade its engineering machines to have the latest Advanced 5-axis for students to learn with and enter the competition again next year. 

"It's a great career with limitless possibilities." 

Edited for tone and clarity. Original text here