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Pellissippi State now can certify Haas machine operators

A student at a Haas CNC machine at Pellissippi State

Pellissippi State Community College is now one of only two higher education institutions nationwide that can provide in-person assessments for those seeking Haas certification as a Basic Mill Operator.

Pellissippi State Community College is now one of only two higher education institutions nationwide that can provide in-person assessments for those seeking Haas certification as a Basic Mill Operator, according to a Haas representative. 

Haas Automation is the largest machine tool builder in the United States and one of the largest builders of CNC machines in the world. CNC stands for computer numerical control, and these machines play an important role in the manufacturing industry.  

“The regional need for CNC machine operators has grown significantly,” said Andy Polnicki, director of Pellissippi State’s MegaLab. “This training and certification provide an opportunity for people in our region to be prepared to enter this field or get the promotion they are seeking.” 

Four high school students from Knox and Blount counties became the first to become Haas certified at Pellissippi State on June 8. 

The Haas Certification Program was developed after many discussions with Haas customers regarding their struggles with finding machine operators, according to Haas. Haas Automation listened to the customers’ issues and decided to help address the labor shortage issue by creating an online curriculum, after which students must pass an in-person, hands-on test. 

“Haas is aware that watching a dozen or so videos will not make a student a machinist,” according to Haas materials. “However, we do believe that the videos and the course curriculum that we have created will give students the necessary skills and understanding to successfully become a Basic CNC Operator. Students will also gain exposure to some of the basics of machining that might otherwise take many months on the job.” 

Carter Talley, Aziz Gharavi, Luke Gentry, Seth Kuykendall

The first four students who earned their Haas certifications at Pellissippi State include high schoolers Carter Talley, Aziz Gharavi, Luke Gentry and Seth Kuykendall, from left.

Previously, those who completed the Haas Certification online curriculum had to take their in-person, hands-on test at a Haas factory outlet. Pellissippi State offering these assessments helps alleviate scheduling conflicts at the Knoxville Haas location.  

“After completion of the online curriculum, the students can schedule a time to come to Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley or Strawberry Plains campus and participate in a hands-on practical test,” Polnicki explained. “A passing grade on the hands-on practical test will yield a Haas Certificate Diploma.” 

While Pellissippi State is starting by offering the assessment for Haas Basic Mill Operator, the college’s intention is to eventually offer a series of Haas certification programs, Polnicki added. 

“Employers are seeking specific skill sets, and specialized certifications such as these can often provide job applicants with an edge over other applicants,” said Susan Webb-Curtis, Pellissippi State’s new executive director for Workforce and Community Development. “The Haas certification verifies that these candidates have completed training and have been able to demonstrate the entry-level skills needed to safely and efficiently operate basic milling machinery. Being able to offer hands-on assessments for the Haas Basic Mill Operator certification is a valuable service that Pellissippi State can now offer through our Haas certified instructors.” 

Those interested in learning more about this opportunity should contact Andy Polnicki at aepolnicki@pstcc.edu. 

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