Northeast State Machine Tool Operations earns NIMS accreditation

The Machine Tool Operations Program at Northeast State Community College reached a new height in program history when it became nationally accredited by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) beginning November of 2016.

NIMS Accreditation is the premiere benchmark for metalworking training programs in the United States as based on NIMS Skills Standards which are industry-written, industry-approved, and recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. NIMS sets industry supported standards for accreditation in machining across America.

“Our NIMS accreditation validates our program and curriculum on a national level,” said Brad Stufflestreet, Machine Tool program director. “With this accreditation, we join an elite group of machining programs that have received this recognition, with the next closest school being over 100 miles away.”

Stufflestreet noted that not only does accreditation support the program, but Northeast State students are able to earn industry-recognized credentials through NIMS. The credentials are validated through local industries and attest to the students’ level of learning through practical demonstration of their skills.

“We continue to strengthen our local relationships and are investigating additional opportunities including registered apprenticeship programs with support from NIMS,” he added.

northeast-state-nims-accreditation-1
(from left) Barry Griggs, Barbara McCray, Brad Stufflestreet, and Keith Tittle hoist the banner recognizing Machine Tool Operations as a nationally accredited program by NIMS.

The NIMS accreditation resulted through the Labor Department’s Trade Adjustment and Community College Career Training grant that brought together Northeast State and five other colleges to form the Southeastern Economic and Education Leadership Consortium (SEELC) in 2013. One of the purposes of this grant was to add the opportunity for students to receive stackable industry-recognized credentials (such as NIMS credentials) in addition to college certificates and degrees.

“This national NIMS accreditation is a major accomplishment and is the result of a focused team effort that involved college faculty, local employer partners, and SEELC grant staff,” said Barbara McCray, project manager for the SEELC grant at Northeast State. “The NIMS accreditation will bring more attention to the Northeast State machine tool program from area employers and potential students.”

Accreditation is based on NIMS National Skill Standards for Machining Level I with a focus on CNC and manual machining skills. As a nationally accredited program, the College demonstrated its commitment to providing industry-level training for northeast Tennessee and for the greater U.S. manufacturing industry.

Led by Industry Certification Coordinator Barry Griggs, college staff and faculty met the stringent quality requirements set forth by NIMS. The College undertook several requirements including a self-audit, the certifying of faculty and students against NIMS industry credentials, and an intensive two-day on-site evaluation at the Blountville campus.

“Everyone has worked together well to meet all the NIMS requirements for a top-notch machine tool program,” said Griggs. “I think the school’s desire to meet these high standards shows the commitment of the school to its students and I’m very happy to see the school achieve this national recognition.”

The Fall 2016 on-site evaluation was conducted by NIMS evaluators. The visit included a comprehensive facility inspection, observation of student safety habits, and a series of in-depth interviews with faculty, administrators, and local employers.

Keith Tittle, interim assistant dean of the Advanced Technologies division at Northeast State, said the NIMS accreditation validated the quality and level of instruction offered at the College. He said the program’s dedication remained consistent with that of nationally recognized programs.

“This is also an indication of the commitment of our highly qualified instructors to deliver training that will ensure students are successful in the workplace,” said Tittle. “Overall, this NIMS accreditation is evidence of a very successful program involving instructors, students, and local industry.”

For more information about the Machine Tool Operations program and how to apply for admission, visit http://www.NortheastState.edu or call 800.836.7822.

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