HGTC students filling the void in the manufacturing industry

HGTC robotics team, STEM. (WPDE File)

The manufacturing industry in our area is in desperate need of workers. Students at Horry-Georgetown Technical College are stepping up to fill the void.

The Machine Tool Technology Program at HGTC is all about getting students prepared to manufacture products that we use every day. It was actually created because of the demand for workers locally.

Daniel Rollins demonstrated the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) behind the process. Students at this lab are using high-tech machines to learn how to create parts of all kinds.

"I go through all my tools, I make all my cuts, I take all these precise measurements and at the end of it-- is a part. So, that's a very satisfying thing," said Rollins.

Rollins has always been interested in STEM.

He was a part of the First Robotics team at Carolina Forest High School.

"I didn't realize building robots in high school was an option. You just show up and they hand you some tools," he recalled.

Rollins initially thought he would want to be a programmer. He quickly realized his passion for machinery thanks to mentors in the manufacturing industry who were helping out the robotics team.

"There are people who exist who can make these crazy precise parts -these very intricate geometry's and all these fancy shapes on a part. There are people who can make that with a very high degree of precision and that kind of sparked my interest," Rollins said.

Now some of those experts in the field are retiring.

"The need around here is definitely growing," Machine Tool Technology instructor Tim Coggins said.

That growth is creating quite an opportunity for students.

"We get more phone calls and contacts all the time of new and developing industries coming to the area looking for students that have the skills to fill the positions," said Coggins.

That's why the program has a 100 percent placement for students in the industry.

Rollins is no exception. He's already interning at a manufacturing company in Horry County working alongside the best of the best.

He'll be finished with his Associate's Degree by June and ready to start his career.

"What's being built here is a foundation. I can take what I learn here and I can apply it to most other machines," said Rollins.

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