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Production Technician Training for Jobs at Gigafactories

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Production Technician Equipment Image

The next Production Technician Program begins on Sept. 14 at TMCC with a new open-access format.

TMCC’s Production Technician Certificate of Achievement Program begins on Sept. 14 in a new and innovative open-entry, closed-exit format.

With large firms such as Tesla Motors and Switch moving into Northern Nevada, the demand for skilled production technicians will rise dramatically, according to experts.

“Companies with any level of mass production or automation will need production technicians,” said Jim New, Dean of Technical Sciences at TMCC. “This goes for corporations with a mega-factory to all the companies with around 150 employees.”

The open-access course format allows students to work at their own pace through classes that have been divided into half-credit segments. Up to 12 credits may be completed by the conclusion of each semester. The Certificate of Achievement is a 32-credit program in total.

Students signing up for a smaller number of credits at the start of the term may later enroll for additional half-credit sections if they finish the initial coursework with enough time to complete the new class segments before the end of the semester. Typically, the cut-off point to sign up for additional classes is about six weeks prior to the end of the term.

“Really motivated students who complete three credits by the end of October, could sign up for three more credits,” New said. “It’s like a pay-as-you-go system.”

On the other hand, a student can enroll for 12 credits starting in September and work through each consecutive class segment. Books and printed materials are provided free of charge, through check-out and return. The texts cannot leave the building, but online versions are available as PDF files.

Student-centered Learning

“This is Instructor-assisted and student-centered learning,” said Randy Walden, Director of Technical Sciences. “It’s individualized attention, one-to-one instruction – definitely not the teacher up in the front of the class type of model.”

It is a competency-based program, where students complete written work on theories of manufacturing production, and master practical hands-on skills. Written assessments must be completed with 90% accuracy to progress to the next class segment, and students must be 100% competent with hands-on assignments.

“The training lab is open from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. from Monday-Friday, and there is always a full-time instructor there to provide assistance and training with the equipment, nearly all of which is brand new machinery,” Walden said. “The instructors will also grade the written theoretical assessments on the spot.”

Written tests are paper and pencil, and a student ID is required to take assessments or to check out books at the Resource Center. There are also computers at the Resource Center, which has the same hours as the training lab.

In-demand Skills

“Tesla likes the competency-based learning method – the modules with its flexible format,” Walden said. “They are going to have a huge demand for production technicians with the skills that TMCC is providing.”

New agrees.

“The module format also allows for companies to create customized pathways of training at TMCC for employees to get additional and specialized skills,” New said.

There are currently 64 students completing various levels of the Production Technician Certificate Program. An additional six students from other programs, such as solar energy technology, have enrolled in classes that are also part of their curriculum.

About 200 students are on the waiting list to begin the Production Technician Certificate Program; but as soon as one of the half-credit sections opens, someone in the wait list can get in. Students need to enroll in person at the Resource Center in the TMCC IGT Applied Technology Center, Edison Way.

Once a student earns the certificate, they are well-prepared to sit for the Certified Production Technician credential, New said. The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) is a nonprofit assessment and certificate-granting organization that is led by industry representatives from across the U.S.

The Production Technician Certificate Program is 100% funded as part of a $3,201,968 grant awarded under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT), as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

For more information about the Production Technician Program, contact Cheryl Olson at 775-856-5304.