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Six machinists graduate from Blinn’s Hodde Center

Students equipped with skills that match top industry standards

As the final days of the A.W. Hodde Technical Education Center’s Machining Technology course drew to a close, Justin Polasek used the skills he has learned to machine one final piece – an aluminum phone case.

“I’ve always been interested in machining, but I’ve never pursued it this in-depth,” Polasek said as he measured an angle.

It marked the final course project for Polasek, who has spent more than 200 hours in the machinist lab. He was one of six to graduate Friday, joining Sidney Johnson (Giddings), Holdan Preuss (Brenham), James Hedgecough (Brenham), Trevor Qualls (Lexington) and Jose R. Avalos (Navasota).

“This course has been a great learning experience,” Avalos said. “We’re able to come in and learn this new craft in a safe environment with hands-on instruction.”

The class was Blinn’s first to be certified by the National Institute for Medalworking Skills (NIMS), an organization that sets the industry skill standard, as well as certifies workers’ individual skills. The Hodde Center is now one of just four sites in the state with NIMS-certified instructors.

“If our students move out of state, they may move to an area of the country where employers aren’t familiar with Blinn College and its outstanding reputation, but NIMS is the national standard,” said Megan Costanza, dean of Workforce Education. “For the rest of their lives, students who complete our machining program will have a certification that means something to every employer across the country.”

Friday’s graduates are now qualified to enter a workforce expected to have 130,000 job openings in the next 10 years, according to Hodde Center officials.

In Brenham, machining is the number one work skill desired by area employers.

“The program is designed to make sure that our students’ skills are equivalent with the industry level,” Instructor Terry Winkelmann said.

First United Methodist Church donated $100 gift certificates to the six graduates to purchase steel-toed boots at Brenham Saddle Shop. The graduates will use the boots in their new careers.

“This is a great example of a community effort assisting our students as they prepare for the workforce,” Hodde Center Director David Yeager said.

The 12,000-square foot A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center was built in 2009 to provide local training for a quality, viable workforce in Washington and the surrounding communities. Its staff works in cooperation with local businesses to provide a well-trained workforce that strengthens the local economy. For more information on the Hodde Center and its course offerings, call 979-830-4443 or visit www.blinn.edu/blinntec.

Machinist Graduates: Six Blinn College students graduated from the A.W. Hodde Technical Education Center’s Machinist Training course Friday, Dec. 20. Pictured, front row, from left: Sidney Johnson, Jose R. Avalos, Holdan Preuss and Instructor Herb Dabelgott. Back row, from left: Trevor Qualls, Justin Polasek, James Hedgecough and Instructor Terry Winkelmann.