ZOLLER Inc. has donated nearly $250,000 in equipment to Washtenaw Community College (WCC) to train students on state-of-the-art machinery that measures precision cutting tools along with an advanced tool management system.
ZOLLER’s equipment gift is part of a multi-pronged investment in WCC and the future workforce, including a robust apprenticeship program with a direct path to hire and train four-to-six students per year for high-demand careers with the company.
The third generation, family owned German technology company, with North American headquarters in Ann Arbor, has delivered eight pieces in the Advanced Manufacturing Lab on campus in time for the Fall 2023 semester.
The equipment includes a CNC presetter, Tool Management System Solution, tool station with workbench and numerous other components. Students enrolled in WCC’s associate degree in Advanced Manufacturing (CNC) - Machine Tool Setup, Operation and Programming, as well as certificate programs in Machine Tool (CNC) will be trained on the machinery.
“The donation is only one part of the equation. We want to help develop the curriculum and instructions, and have students visit our headquarters for live demos and technical presentations. We’re offering an accelerated journey that no other college is receiving,” said Michael Stepke training and development manager at ZOLLER.
Through the company’s new Application Engineer Apprentice program, ZOLLER will cover tuition while providing employment with health and retirement benefits and additional weekly stipends, with a minimum commitment from the apprentice of two years of employment after graduation.
“ZOLLER’s generous gift and investment in Washtenaw’s students helps us fulfil our mission of providing exceptional education while training and growing the workforce,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. “We are thankful for this donation and for our relationship with ZOLLER that helps our students on many levels.”
Graduates who participate in the apprentice program will be part of ZOLLER’s service team, traveling throughout the country to calibrate the company’s precision tool measurement equipment installed in automotive, shipbuilding, aerospace, medical device and energy technology manufacturing facilities.
Drew Tartalone, a 2022 WCC graduate has been employed at ZOLLER since June. As an applications engineer, Tartalone travels primarily to customers on the East Coast to program new tools, calibrate machines, make repairs and train new employees.
“This is an exciting opportunity for students to learn about cutting edge technology and connecting all tooling related processes in manufacturing. ZOLLER is the world market leader in the industry for presetters. It’s hard to keep them even in the showrooms because they’re being bought up so quickly,” Tartalone said.
Stepke said in addition to learning how to calibrate, install and update machines, students will develop a deep sense of how the cutting tool data flows in the manufacturing process from point A to point B and what is required to create a connected tool preparation room in a modern machine shop.
“I’m not aware of any community college being able to offer this approach. Usually CNC equipment is taught as a concept by itself. Our new partnership will integrate the complete workflow from drawing to part. This will give the edge to these students,” Stepke said.
APPRENTICESHIPS AT WCC