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The metal fabrication industry needs skilled workers, and many servicemen and women returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—jobless and often facing bleak career prospects—need good jobs. Workshops for Warriors, a San Diego nonprofit founded in 2008, is helping match the industry’s need for workers with the veterans’ needs for employment by providing free training and certification in metalworking trade skills.

Clare Goldsberry

April 8, 2013

4 Min Read
Closing the skills gap: Haas Automation donates CNC machines to Workshops for Warriors

The metal fabrication industry needs skilled workers, and many servicemen and women returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—jobless and often facing bleak career prospects—need good jobs. Workshops for Warriors, a San Diego nonprofit founded in 2008, is helping match the industry’s need for workers with the veterans’ needs for employment by providing free training and certification in metalworking trade skills.

Workshops for Warriors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that trains, certifies and places veterans in manufacturing careers. Last year, the Gene Haas Foundation contributed $60,000 to the organization to support veteran training, and this year has offered a matching grant of up to $100,000 to increase support for veteran training.

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Standing L to R: Workshops for Warriors Education Coordinator Long Huynh and W for W CEO Hernan Luis y Prado with Tom Chandler, Zac Dinsmore, Clifford White, Thomas Alvarez, Hames Herner. Kneeling L to R: Frank Anicoche, Shayne Schuppert, and James Moreno Jr.

Hernan Luis y Prado, founder and CEO of Workshops for Warriors (W for W), began the program with welding classes in 2009. “We deliver these programs with no federal, state or municipal funding,” y Prado told PlasticsToday. “Support from organizations like the Gene Haas Foundation allows us to run local training programs of national significance. To date, we’ve trained and certified more welders than the U.S. Navy.”

   
Founded in 1999, the Gene Haas Foundation (www.ghaasfoundation.org) has awarded more than $8.5 million in grants to numerous organizations throughout the United States, as a way to give back not just to the local community in Southern California where the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility are, but nationally as well.

Gene Haas started Haas Automation Inc. in 1983, and today it's the largest machine tool builder in North America, according to Peter Zierhut, director of the Gene Haas Foundation. Haas Automation machinery is well known in the metal working industry, including mold manufacturers, for its wide variety of machine tools including CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers, CNC lathes, and rotary products. Specialty machines include 5-axis machining centers, moldmaking machining centers, and gantry routers.

In addition to monetary grants, the Foundation has entrusted new machinery to technical training programs nationwide. According to Zierhut, there are more than 3000 Haas machines being used at 1200 schools across America. These machines are “entrusted” to the schools for their exclusive use for a specific period of times, usually two years, but Haas typically continues to renew these contracts. “It allows the schools to use the equipment as if it were theirs,” explained Zierhut. “At some point we may take the machines back and rotate them for new machines. A lot of times we want our newest equipment in the schools to showcase our latest technology.”

W for W expanded into metalworking classes in 2011, and now provides certification through the National Institute of Metalworking. Haas Automation has entrusted four CNC machines valued at more than $440,000 to W for W. “It is thanks to the Haas Foundation and Haas Automation that we started the metalworking training program, which allows us to have the latest machinery so our students learn on the latest technology, y Prado said.”

Starting a new training program requires brand new machinery to ensure students are prepared for the real-world metalworking environment. “That’s a massive bonus for new students,” said y Prado. “Having Haas entrust these machines to the program enables us to train on new equipment. Being able to prove our capability in providing training and students demonstrating their knowledge on the machines is critical to our overall success.”

According to Long Huynh, education coordinator for W for W, there are four areas of certification through the National Institute of Metalworking: job planning and benchwork; measurements and safety; drill press operation; and milling. They also learn using MasterCAM and SolidWorks software. Currently, the programs are eight weeks long, however Huynh said they will be expanding those to 16-week courses to provide more training. After their training and certification is complete, W for W assists the students with job placement in manufacturing companies.

Workshops for Warriors has to date, trained and certified 73 graduates from both welding and machining classes. The students have earned 157 certificates from nationally accredited technical trade groups. Spring classes began January 28, with 70 veterans enrolled.

The Foundation’s Zierhut added, “We are extremely proud of the Haas partnership with Workshops for Warriors. Helping veterans achieve a great new career in manufacturing helps them and helps our nation maintain global leadership in a vital business sector.”

The W for W organization has recently named its metalworking center the Haas Technical Educational Center, in honor of the contributions that the Gene Haas Foundation and Haas Automation have made in support of the program. “Nobody in the industry does what Haas does,” commented y Prado.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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