Grand Canyon University creates additional pathway to meet demand of manufacturing careers

Weston Smith of LUX Precision Manufacturing uses a Optical Comparative Device to examine machined parts for proper tolerances at the company’s workshop inside Canyon Ventures. July 7, 2022.

Phoenix, AZ (Sept. 12, 2023) – Grand Canyon University has partnered with manufacturing companies Benchmark Electronics, Modern Industries and Lux Precision Manufacturing to create the CNC Machinist Pathway that will prepare students to learn computer numerical control (CNC), a high demand trade that uses computers to precision manufacture parts. Manufacturing jobs are growing, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating a 7% national growth rate for machinists through 2030.

“GCU’s Center for Workforce Development is part of our broader job-focused curriculum to create a skilled and caring labor workforce,” said Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller. “The trade industry is crucial to the local economy and by offering students creative pathways like this, GCU is meeting the critical need of industry demands. The financial support from company partners like Benchmark Electronics who are helping fund this new trade program model are making a difference starting in our own backyard.”

The CNC Machinist Pathway is a 15-week program that exists alongside the university’s growing baccalaureate engineering and business programs. CNC students will take four evening courses in areas like math, communications and CNC manufacturing. In addition to coursework, participants will work as paid interns at Lux Precision Manufacturing, based at GCU’s 27th Avenue and Camelback campus in Canyon Ventures. Students will receive real work experience manufacturing parts for medical, aerospace and semiconductor industries. Lux Precision Manufacturing is also hiring GCU’s engineering students to learn the manufacturing process as well with hands-on experience.

“We have the opportunity to make an impact on the current state of manufacturing in Arizona and help grow the overall dependency for manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Lux Precision Manufacturing founder and GCU graduate Weston Smith. “Students will have on-the-job training with a solid basis for understanding manufacturing principles and be able to apply this skill immediately into the workforce.”

Funding from Benchmark will go toward curriculum development and scholarships for students. Benchmark, a leader in the manufacturing industry that serves medical, electronics, defense and numerous other industries, has also committed to hiring students each semester who have completed the program.

“Arizona’s innovation economy is on the rise and GCU is significantly contributing to the need for outstanding, homegrown talent in the region,” said Nell Hall, Benchmark’s Global VP of Talent Attraction and Inclusion. “We’re honored to partner with GCU to help students achieve their educational goals and develop the next generation of machinists by providing scholarship funding and access to Benchmark’s expertise. We look forward to what the future will hold through this partnership.”

Recognized as a world class manufacturer in precision machining, Modern Industries Inc., is also partnering with the university to hire GCU students who have completed the pathway, allowing them to gain access to cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and invaluable hands-on experience.

“Our collaboration with GCU will help forge a path to excellence in manufacturing education and innovation, bridging the gap between academia and industry,” said David Seehausen of Modern Industries. “This partnership signifies a commitment to shaping the future of CNC machining, one where knowledge meets practicality, and where innovation flourishes.”

This is the university’s second pathway involving trade occupations, following its Pre-Apprenticeship for Electricians pathway that started in fall 2022 and has produced 74 participants who have become apprentices in the electrician trade. Another 220 students are expected in the program for the upcoming academic year.

The CNC Machinist Pathway is ideal for anyone who is looking to re-career or needs an entry into a four-year college engineering program. Read about current applicants and their experience here. Participants are part of the GCU community and are able to join campus events, dining and the university’s vibrant college atmosphere. For more information, email [email protected]

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About Grand Canyon University: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona’s premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers 312 academic programs, emphases and certificates for both traditional undergraduate students and working professionals. The University’s curriculum emphasizes interaction with classmates, both in-person and online, and individual attention from instructors while fusing academic rigor with Christian values to help students find their purpose and become skilled, caring professionals. For more information, visit gcu.edu.

About Benchmark Electronics, Inc: Benchmark provides comprehensive solutions across the entire product life cycle by leading through its innovative technology and engineering design services, leveraging its optimized global supply chain and delivering world-class manufacturing services in the following industries: commercial aerospace, defense, advanced computing, next generation telecommunications, complex industrials, medical, and semiconductor capital equipment. Benchmark's global operations include facilities in seven countries and its common shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BHE.

About Modern Industries, Inc:
Founded in 1969, Modern has long been recognized as an industry leader in precision machining, chemical processing, complex assembly, high tolerance inspection, and multifaceted weld including TIG, MIG, orbital, laser and e-beam. Modern Industries serves major Tier 1 companies in the military aerospace, commercial aerospace, and semi-conductor sectors. We successfully partner with our customers by leveraging our highly skilled and dedicated workforce to bring value to the relationship while our technologically advanced factories use top tier capital equipment, allowing for continuity of quality and supply.

About Lux Precision Manufacturing:
Established on a foundation of creativity, innovation, and unwavering quality, Lux Precision Manufacturing is at the forefront of revitalizing American manufacturing. Located strategically on the campus of Grand Canyon University, Lux benefits from an industry edge in workforce talent, reduced overheads, and synergies with academia. Certified under AS9001D and ISO 9001:2015, Lux consistently delivers on precision, quality, and timely deliveries. Serving key sectors including aerospace, medical, defense, and semiconductor, Lux integrates the latest manufacturing technologies to provide top-tier services. Our commitment extends beyond mere manufacturing—by streamlining supply chains, reducing lead times, and fostering the next generation of manufacturing professionals in collaboration with Grand Canyon University, we not only offer excellence in production but also drive the future of American manufacturing.

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