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Cailyn Cook says the computer numeric control training she received at Gateway Technical College will help her to finally connect to a career field she’s excited to be in.

It’s a career field brimming with a bright future for Cailyn and her fellow students as companies seek to hire workers who possess the skills they’ve gained through the training program.

“This is something I will enjoy becoming better at and finding a job in that I will want to do the rest of my life,” says Cailyn.

Gateway held a “virtual,” socially-distanced completion ceremony Nov. 17 for Cailyn and her fellow students who completed an intense, 21-week CNC training program at the college’s SC Johnson iMET Center.

Funded in part by a $50,000 Metallica All Within My Hands Foundation grant, 14 students gained the skills for an entry-level CNC operator position, some even beginning their careers before they completed the program.

Students gained CNC skills, a Gateway CNC Operator certificate, several industry-specific certifications and 25 credits toward a Gateway CNC Production Technician technical diploma. To earn the diploma, they have to complete only 11 more credits.

“This training is making a huge difference to me,” says Cook, who also spoke at the completion ceremony. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, ever. And, when I finally figured out what I wanted to do, and I had the opportunity, it’s like, ‘Okay, I have something that I can look forward to in the future. I have something that I can do and I can succeed at. It’s something I can live with, and I can sustain myself with, in the workforce.’”

The class was made up of a mix of students, ranging from some who didn’t even know what CNC was before the class started to some who have worked on CNC machines but wanted to gain the skills to better pay and opportunity within the business.

The Metallica Scholars also took the opportunity to give back, collecting and donating 1,223 non-perishable food items to the Racine County Food Bank. As a thank you for food donated, the students used their new laser cutting skills to engrave guitar-shaped key chains for everyone who donated.

The completion ceremony was held in a large bay area of the SC Johnson iMET Center, with students sitting a safe distance apart and parents and family in their cars in the parking lot, listening to the live broadcast on a dedicated radio channel and watching a livestream of the event projected on the side of a tractor-trailer.

A video of the students and their training can be found here.


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