Lenoir Community College
Machining Students Create Cannon Replica
Machining Students
Pictured left to right are LCC Machining Technology students Robert Earl Hill Jr., Landris Manning, Guy Smith of the CSS Neuse State Historic Site, LCC President Dr. Brantley Briley, LCC Machining Technology Program Head Paul Hill, and LCC Machining Technology student Thomas Cooke.

A machinist has involvement in nearly every product people purchase throughout their lifetime. They produce components used in manufacturing environments such as the aircraft industry. Machinists make molds for injection molding processes to make computer cabinets. These are only a few examples of the jobs a machinist may perform once they acquire the skills necessary to perform the task. Machinists also have the capability to reproduce products on various scales to model a finished product.

Three Lenoir Community College Machining Technology students performed a community service by reproducing a small scaled version of a cannon similar to the ones used on the original CSS Ram Neuse Confederate iron clad ship. The students, Landris Manning, and Robert Hill, are displaced workers who are completing the Machining Technology program through the Work Force Investment Act (WIA) program. These students are expected to complete the program Fall 2006 semester.

Tom Cooke is a 43-year veteran machinist. He was inducted into the International honor society of two-year colleges Phi Theta Kappa in the Fall Semester of 2005. Upon graduation, Cooke hopes to teach or consult for local machining industries. “ I basically have a lot of manual machining skills that I have learned throughout my career” Cooke said. “The program has allowed me to advance my skills to another level by learning the CNC machining techniques.”

Landris Manning came into the program with 32 years of prior machining experience. He said he may return to industry upon graduated with his new updated skills or possibly seek an opportunity as a consultant for the local machining industries.“I basically learned my previous skills through the school of hard knocks,” he said. “This has been a new learning experience relating to the latest technologies that this program has to offer in improving my machining skills.”

Robert Hill came to the program to learn entirely new job skills. Upon graduation, he hopes to land a job as a machinist with local industry. “I previously was a machine operator for a local textile company and had dabbled in automotive mechanics jobs. I have learned many new skills in the machining program that will be vital in helping me locate a new and more stable career,” he said.

LCC Machining Technology Program Head Paul Hill said the reproduction of the model Civil War period cannon was a joint effort between the three students and a few local industries. “Tom and Landris machined and assembled the components for the cannon while Robert worked on the miniature shells. DP Hill manufacturing participated by redrawing the blueprints we worked from and United Machine Works provided the service of having the cannon black oxided to give it an aged appearance,” Hill said. “I am very proud of quality of work that these students put into this project. This was a unique opportunity for them to participate in this community-based project and learn from the experience,” he said. “Tom and Landris have brought a wealth of experience to the program as students with their previous experience,” he added. “Robert has learned a lot and will be a very good machinist in the future.”

Guy Smith of the CSS Neuse State Historic Site said the cannon model will serve as a teaching tool for those who visit the historic site. “We are so pleased with this model. It will give people a chance to see a replica of the cannons that were on the ironclad. We really appreciate everyone who participated in this project.”

Gary Clements, LCC director of Industry and Public Service programs, added that the project was just one of many Hill and his students were working on. “Paul and his students never cease to amaze me with the creations that come out their lab. Some of the creations to me could pass for artwork,” he added.
“Since his employment here at the college, Paul has taken this program to a higher level. The new advance-machining center located at the Global Transpark Education and Training Center is going to give the college and eastern North Carolina a boost educationally and economically. We are very excited about the current direction of this program of study at LCC under Paul’s leadership.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 370,000 jobs nationwide for machinists in 2004. Income ranged from $12 to approximately $25 per hour. The job out look will continue to grow in the future for well-trained and high technically skilled machinist.

For more information about the LCC Machining Technology Program, contact Hill at 527-6223, ext. 107 or email him at phill@lenoircc.edu.

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