COVINGTON, Ga. - Mark Engelbracht, president and founder of Omni Machine Works, Inc. in Covington, has a vested interest in seeing students in manufacturing-related programs at Georgia Piedmont Technical College get the best training possible, and on the best equipment. He recently donated a five-ton computer numerical control machine to the college to do just that.
While having highly-trained machinists for his own company is important to Engelbracht, his relationship with GPTC is also an important one. He graduated from the college, then known as DeKalb Tech, in the 1980s and attended with GPTC’s current executive director for advanced manufacturing, Bryan Sexton.
“The beautiful thing about machining is there’s nothing really in the manufacturing world that the machinist doesn’t touch at some point in time,” Engelbracht said. “Machinists make parts for anything you can possibly think of.”
Examples include parts for the automotive, automation, packaging, tire, medical, computer, boiler and food processing industries. In addition to designing and building equipment, Omni Machine Works produces custom replacement parts for local and regional companies and has expanded to support national and international industries since its opening in 1996.
Engelbracht says machinists are the foundation in building strong manufacturing and that there is a need to bring awareness about the career opportunities available for skilled machinists.
“Generally, people think a machinist is a machine operator. But a machinist understands metallurgy, understands programming, understands heat factors and the different characteristics of metals,” said Claudia Engelbracht, Mark’s wife and the CEO at Omni Machine Works.
The donated CNC machine, a Cincinnati Milacron Hawk 200 model with an estimated value of $18,000, will be housed at GPTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Covington and will give area high school students and aspiring industry employees a chance to explore a machinist’s career.
German Apprenticeship Program students from high schools in Newton County will be the first to train on the machine. Participants in GPTC’s upcoming 8-week CNC Academy, a program for unemployed and underemployed individuals who want to re-enter the workforce with new and in-demand skills, will also learn the trade using the donated machine.
With graduate job placement as a top priority at GPTC, Sexton says, “Having this piece of equipment on GPTC’s campus is going to expand faculty and students’ knowledge and the college’s training capabilities. CNC programming is a hot area, and anyone who knows programming code is going to find a job.”
Mark Engelbracht also emphasized the significance of learning manual operation in machine tooling when preparing for a career as a machinist.
“We deal with tenths of a-thousandths. Students need to learn how to use precision measurement tools. It’s very important to know the manual fundamentals of what it is you’re actually doing and why. CNC technology is a computerized version of that,” he said. “This piece of equipment is going to allow students the ability to have something to experiment with — to learn and understand code and the operation of CNC machines.”