DANVILLE, Va. — You might think that when the US Department of Defense looks for individuals to ensure our national security, they’d look to places like Annapolis and West Point. They do, of course, but they also look at places like Danville Community College in Virginia. No, really.
“The average age is in the 50s and the government recognized that as a national security threat,” said Jeremiah Williams, the director of the Integrative Machines Program at Danville Community College.
Machining isn’t what it was in the days these students’ fathers may have done it.
“The idea of it used to be individuals working in kind of a dirty, grungy environment,” Williams said. “It requires a much more skilled individual.”
That was very attractive to students like Trent Oswald.
“I’ve always found that I really enjoy just making very good-looking parts out of material that comes in out of the back of a truck,” Oswald said.
Oswald and his teammates are competing in the DoD’s Project MFG, which looks to encourage young people like him to work in manufacturing. Danville CC made it to the contest’s final four against some serious competition.
“LSU is one of the schools that’s competing, there are multiple other universities,” Williams said.
Other schools competing include other four-year schools like Mississippi State.
But Danville is well-tooled thanks, in large part, to support from places like the Haas Foundation. That’s an organization founded by Gene Haas that has donated millions to schools – many of them community colleges – to support manufacturing.
See the work the students are doing in this edition of the Buckley Report.