Technic Training Center uses ALPHACAM to prepare the next generation of woodworkers for the modern workforce

This educational center uses the ALPHACAM to prepare students for the demands of the modern production environment.

Technic Training Center

While finding the next generation of woodworkers is vital to the health of the industry, providing access to the types of skills inherent to all vocational education is just as important to the founders of Technic Training Center.

“Our goal is to help address the workforce challenge and help local industries have a great group of people to recruit from for employment opportunities. Not everyone is going to end up with a career in manufacturing, but it’s a stepping stone to other opportunities in their future. Here is where you can learn how to work,” said Program Director John Slagle.

“We describe the program as training students toward manufacturing skills that can be applied in a future career setting. That’s hands-on technical skills — such as working with tools and machines — but they’re also learning soft skills, like leadership, responsibility, and punctuality.”

Located in Lynden, Washington, Technic Training Center is the brainchild of Ted Bargen, president of Lynden Door, Inc., who approached Slagle about joining forces to open the center due to Slagle’s experience in education and the non-profit industry.

“We want to work with schools and serve students — but not be the school,” Slagle said. “We saw that there was a need in the workforce for people with practical vocational skills, and we saw that this type of technical training is no longer taking place to the degree that it once was. The center is responding to the needs of woodworking, as well as to the needs of the community.”

To help get students prepared for the workforce, Training Manager Ron Visser of Technic Training center retired as a long-time business owner to contribute his 50-plus years of experience in commercial cabinetry and architectural millwork to the center’s efforts.

“We picked the software to teach our students because of the wide variety of capabilities that they can learn how to use with it.”
John Slagle, Program Director

Hands-On Training

Located on the site of a fully functional door-manufacturing business, the center’s 8,000 square-foot facility is currently used to instruct 90 students from both public and private schools, as well as those who are home-schooled. The students receive instruction two to five days a week and most receive dual credit, in math and career technical education, for their efforts.

Students learn the craft of woodworking by “doing things the hard way first,” meaning that they take pencil to paper and hammer to nail before moving on to computer-aided-design (CAD) programs for engineering and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) programs for production.

Technic Training Center

The center uses the ALPHACAM manufacturing solution, by the Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Production Software business, to prepare students for the demands of the modern production environment.

“Our goal is to keep adding more technology that’s relevant to the needs of business,” said Slagle. “We want to find the next generation of woodworkers and make sure that they’re equipped with the latest technologies.”

ALPHACAM is used to program the center’s two CNC routers, and was chosen because the team at Technic Training Center believe that it’s an ideal instructional tool.

“When we acquired our nested-based CNC router with support from WEINIG HOLZ-HER, we used ALPHACAM to program it,” Slagle said. “We picked the software to teach our students because of the wide variety of capabilities that they can learn how to use with it.”

Technic Training Center

Building Bridges, and Countertops

Founded with the mission of contributing value to the community, Technic Training Center fulfills that order by both providing skilled labor and taking on projects that benefit the area.

Student jobs include structured personal and numerous community projects, which have included furniture for a recovery home and bookcases for a local school district.

“Our students do the design, bidding, and cost analysis of the product,” Slagle said, “then they’ll also do the ordering of materials, bill of materials, and design of individual parts. The projects they do are for unique products that are a good fit for training and complement what’s happening in the community.”

As community jobs are completed for paying customers, students gain real-world industry experience and see how the work that they do makes a difference.

Technic Training Center

“They see that through their work that they can create an impact in the world. We don’t want them to think of work as just a boring thing that you have to do, but that work is a chance to be creative and make something new, along with offering a great livelihood.” Local business leaders are encouraged to impart their wisdom to students, and many take the opportunity to do so. Thus far, 31 on-site business presentations have taken place at Technic Training Center since it opened in Spring 2016.

“We host a lot of business at the training center for both coaching and recruiting activities,” said Slagle, explaining that companies have been as interested in mentoring as in hiring graduates.

Since the training center opened its doors, 37 of its graduates have been hired at 15 local businesses directly as a result of their experience at Technic.

Among those graduates was Marcos Vander Veen, who was hired by custom countertop manufacturer Creative Stoneworks. At 19 years of age, he became one of the company’s lead draftsmen, generating programs in ALPHACAM and using the company’s waterjet to produce innovative parts.

“We made 425 bookcases for two new schools in our community, during which time Marcos gained experience using ALPHACAM, and later became a lead operator at the CNC,” Slagle said. “It makes a difference to business owners when they can see not only your ambitions, but what you’ve actually been able to do and accomplish.”

About the company

Name: Technic Training Center 
Business: Technical and wood-manufacturing education

Benefits achieved

  • Helps prepare students for the modern manufacturing workforce
  • Ability to teach students a wide range of capabilities
  • Comprehensive training in NC programming