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IRSC Machining Boot Camp Generates Success for Local Manufacturers

IRSC Machining Boot Camp Generates Success for Local Manufacturers

June 27, 2023 Jon Pine

FORT PIERCE—It’s only been a couple of months since America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) program at Indian River State College (IRSC) obtained its state-of-the-art computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machine, but spaces in the program’s machining boot camps are filling up to capacity, as local manufacturers sing the praises of the free, five-day hands-on training sessions.

Christian Massey

Christian Massey, co-owner of Rolling Forged, a Port St. Lucie company specializing in creating custom aluminum wheels for cars and trucks, takes a measurement during a recent machining boot camp.

The new Haas VF-2SSYT Super-Speed CNC Vertical Machining Center was purchased with funding from the national ACE initiative to revitalize manufacturing in the United States and position the country as highly capable and competitive on the world stage. Several Treasure Coast manufacturing companies and workers looking to upskill or embark on a new career path have benefited from the technology and training locally.

For Christian Massey, 20, and Nicholas Howie, 24, attending the free boot camp gives them a leg up for a new venture they are starting. The two men just bought a CNC milling machine, and with financing and direction from Massey’s father, have started Rolling Forged—a Port St. Lucie company specializing in creating custom aluminum wheels for cars and trucks.

The boot camp “definitely helped me understand the Fusion program because I had no clue at all about how to run Fusion,” Massey said. AutoDesk Fusion 360 is a 3D modeling platform used in CNC to tell the milling machines how to shape the stock material. “It was a great introduction to the basics,” Howie added, “giving us a general understanding of how the machines work. We got a lot of hands-on with the machine, which was great. Now we’re a lot more comfortable using our machine.”

Albert Tamez, 39, has been a CNC machinist for 15 years with Awareness Technology, a Palm City company that manufactures parts for blood transfusion machines. The boot camp also gave him more in-depth knowledge of the Fusion 360 modeling software. “My goal is to come off the machine and get into more of the design and programming aspect of things,” Tamez said. “It’s a skill that is very much in demand right now.”

In fact, manufacturing companies are moving into Florida at a record pace, said Duane Reiff, Executive Director of the Treasure Coast Manufacturers Association. “The future growth on the Treasure Coast is going to be off the charts,” Reiff said. St. Lucie County, in particular, has done a lot to attract and provide the infrastructure for large manufacturing and distribution, he said. Last year, Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), around $1.4 trillion, exceeded the GDP of the entire country of Germany, Reiff added. “There’s definitely a lot of good opportunities in the next decade for the manufacturing, distribution and logistics communities,” he said.

“I’m very intrigued by those who put their foot forward and went into IRSC’s boot camps program, and I’m anxious to start interviewing them” for potential jobs, said Kurt Riley, vice president of Advanced Machine and Tool, Inc., a high precision machine shop in Fort Pierce. “They took their own time and effort and time away from their family to learn something. That’s the kind of employee I want.”

Established in 1979, Advanced Machine and Tool employs around 50 people and provides parts for the power generation industry and amusement parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios, among other clients, Riley said. As some of his older employees start planning for retirement, there is an upcoming age gap and lots of positions will be opening up, he said.

Students in the ACE boot camps learn G-code and M-code, the Computer-aided Design and Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) programming language that is used most widely in the manufacturing industry. “The Haas machine at IRSC is perfect for milling training,” Riley said.

At least five other manufacturing facilities in the are also looking for employees, Riley said. Starting salaries average $18 per hour with potential, depending on additional in-house training and ability, to earn $30 per hour and more, he said, with better than average benefits. An employee with a degree could make even more as a supervisor or in an administrative position, he added.

The College’s first two ACE machining boot camps in May and June filled up immediately, with very little promotion. The next boot camps are scheduled to begin on August 25 and September 29. Students attend one day per week for five weeks. There is no fee. For more information and to register visit

Natalia Chekhovskaya, Executive Director of Advanced Manufacturing at IRSC, has relied on Riley, an IRSC alumnus, to help her build IRSC’s ACE program to include more of the academic and hands-on training necessary to create a graduate that is a perfect fit for any local manufacturing company. “Kurt is a wealth of knowledge, helping us ensure we are aligned with all of the best safety practices,” Chekhovskaya said. “He is the right person to help us create the most relevant program.”

“IRSC is prepared and well-positioned to respond to the region’s growing regional manufacturing workforce needs,” Chekhovskaya added. “The newly established Advanced Manufacturing Hub at IRSC will offer a broad range of fast-track hands-on training programs, from precision fabrication to industrial automation to smart factory systems integration.”

For more information about the America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) program at IRSC, visit

IRSC is one of three locations in Florida designated as an ACE regional machine tool training center. The ACE program combines a free online curriculum and a five-day hands-on in-person training at IRSC aimed to catalyze awareness and interest in all facets of machining, including software development, vibrations, metrology, design, operation, and entrepreneurship. The new CNC machine is the centerpiece of this high-intensity hands-on, training environment.

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