Machinist training.

Ok, I’ve been asked many times about ‘how does one learn to become a machinist’?

The answer is simple… start at the beginning. Once you’ve decided that being a machinist is what you want to become, you must seek out a local trade school that can teach the necessary skills to enable you to become a machinist.

Here, in the greater San Diego area, one program stands out. It’s at San Diego City College. The instructor of the Machine Technology program at City College is John Bollinger (619-388-3659). I would recommend that any prospective student personally meet with Mr. Bollinger and discuss their educational possibilities. Make a determination as to what type of degree you want to pursue and enroll in the Machine Technology program.

Below are some general information about the Machine Technology program at City College and a brief listing of degrees/certificates offered;

http://www.sdcity.edu/AcademicPrograms/ProgramsofInstruction/MachineTech...

Machine Technology (MACT)
140 Machine Technology - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Mathematics 46 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Level M40.
This course is an introduction to the Machine Technology field. Emphasis is placed on safety, measurements, common formulas, machining applications, drawings, and career opportunities in the field. This course is designed for students planning to major in the occupational field of machine technology. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
150 Introduction to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40.
This course is a study of advanced machining techniques including numerically controlled mills and lathes and electro-discharging machining. Emphasis is placed on introducing the student to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming using "G" and "M" codes. This course is designed for students majoring in Machine Technology and with previous machine laboratory experience. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
160M Introduction to CAD/CAM - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 161M.
This course is an introductory, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Mastercam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs at a basic level for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
160S Introduction to CAD/CAM - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 161S.
This course is an introductory, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Surfcam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs at a basic level for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
161M Applications of CAD/CAM I - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 160M with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course presents students with intermediate-level Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing CAD/CAM projects dealing with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program generation for the CNC Mill and CNC Lathe using Mastercam software. Students at this level work under moderate instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
161S Applications of CAD/CAM - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 160S.
This course presents students with intermediate-level Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) projects dealing with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program generation for the CNC Mill and CNC Lathe using Surfcam software. Students at this level work under moderate instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
162M Applications of CAD/CAM II - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 161M with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course presents students with advanced-level Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) exercises dealing with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program generation for the CNC Mill and CNC Lathe using Mastercam. Students at this level work with minimal instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
162S Applications of CAD/CAM II - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 161S with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course presents students with advanced-level Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) exercises dealing with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program generation for the CNC Mill and CNC Lathe using Surfcam software. Students at this level work with minimal instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
170 Introduction to CNC Controlled Vertical Machining - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 150 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an introductory, hands-on study Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Vertical Machining theory and techniques. Emphasis is placed on Vertical Machining basic operations and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM). (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
171 Application of CNC Controlled Vertical and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) I - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 170 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This laboratory course provides exercises in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Vertical Machining techniques and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) at an intermediate level. Students at this level work under moderate instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
172 Application of CNC Controlled Vertical Machining and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) II - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 171 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This laboratory course provides exercises in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Vertical Machining techniques and Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) at an advanced level. Students at this level work under minimal instructor supervision to increase efficiency and quality of work. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
180M Advanced CAD/CAM - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 160M with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Mastercam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced modeling surface techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at a beginning level under direct instructor supervision. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
180S Advanced CAD/CAM - 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab, 4 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 160S with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Surfcam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced surface modeling techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at a beginning level under direct instructor supervision. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
181M Application in Advanced CAD/CAM I - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 180M with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Mastercam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced modeling techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at an intermediate level under moderate instructor supervision. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
181S Application in Advanced CAD/CAM I - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 180S with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Surfcam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced modeling techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at an intermediate level under moderate instructor supervision. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
182M Application in Advanced CAD/CAM II - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 181M with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Mastercam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced surface modeling techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at an advanced level under minimal instructor supervision. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
182S Advanced CAD/CAM II - 6 hours lab, 2 units (Grade Only)

Advisory: English 48 and English 49 and Mathematics 46, each with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent, or Assessment Skill Levels R5 and W5 and M40; and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Machine Technology 181S with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent.
This course is an advanced, hands-on study of Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) theory and applications using Surfcam software. Emphasis is placed on generating programs using advanced surface modeling techniques for both the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Mill and CNC Lathe at an advanced level under minimal instructor supervision. This course may be taken four times to enhance skills or proficiencies by supervised repetition and practice within class periods. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.
290 Independent Study in Machine Technology - Hours by Arrangement, 1 - 3 units (Grade Only)

Limitation on Enrollment: Must obtain an Add Code from instructor for registration.
For advanced students in machine technology who wish to pursue problems and projects relating to their particular subject area. The student meets with the instructor at specific intervals and is expected to do primary research, analyze problems and submit reports. This course may be taken four times with different content for a maximum of six units. (FT) Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU and private colleges and universities.

This discipline may offer specialized instruction in one or more of the following areas: Supervised Tutoring (044), Experimental Topics (265), Independent Study (290), Individualized Instruction (296), Service Learning (277), or Work Experience (270). Detailed course descriptions are listed on page page 120. Please refer to the class schedule and/or see the dean or department chair for availability.

Trade school

I belong to a variety of forums online, to include political, machining, and general news... to name a few. On the machining forum, I run across a lot of people who typically ask the same questions concerning trade schools and help with programming problems. I'd like to address the topic of trade schools... what to expect, what's required, and tools needed for the machine shop courses.

Granted, when I went through trade school, things have changed. But fundamentally, all machinist students must start at the bottom and work themselves up to the level and ability to warrant the title 'Machinist'. Its a long process that really never ends. There's always something new or outside every machinist's experience range throughout their careers. I've never met a machinist that 'knew it all', just a lot of machinists who just didn't know the limits of their own knowledge.

During my two and a half years of trade school, our course load consisted of classroom days and lab days. Mondays and Wednesdays were in the classroom and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays were lab days. Class days involved learning basic machine shop terminologies, principles of machining, the proper use of dividing heads, figuring correct speeds and feeds for specific materials on mills and lathes, safety rules of the shop, blueprint reading, trigonometry, algebra, and programming. Lab days concentrated on the application of the lessons learned on class days.

Some of what was expected of students during the first few quarters of school included the correct grinding of drills and tool bits, learning to 'sweep in' manual mills, the squaring of materials with a mill or a shaper, religiously keeping a journal of all our daily shop activities, and attendance was strictly enforced. It was a requirement to be able to flip to any page of your journal the instructor asked for and be able to show him your notes for the day. If you couldn't do this, you had a zero entered for that day's grade. That was how important keeping a journal was for class.

I maintained a journal for years after school but dropped the habit over time. I recently recommitted to keeping a journal again. A journal is important for many reasons. It allows you to refresh your memory of what was done on any given day, it comes in handy as a reference to what changes you made to a program, setup notes for tricky jobs, work order information, heat codes for jobs when the certs are misplaced (thus saving a job that would otherwise have to be scrapped out due to traceability issues), or which machines you ran each day you worked. It also carries a lot of weight come your annual review time. A well maintained journal is indispensable.

I believe any person who takes pride in what they do, pays attention to details, and is eager to learn, can become a great machinist. Its the person who refuses to do more than what is expected of them, unwilling to absorb new machinist skills, or who does just enough to 'get by', that has no place in the modern machine shop environment. Let me tell you, there are more than enough of those clowns out there in the workforce. I run into them all the time. On the one hand, they make me angry because of their poor work ethic, but on the other I see them as 'stepping stones' to moving up the ladder within a company. Its easier to shine when you're surrounded by incompetence. That's a universal truth.

Machinists should own a basic assortment of tools of the trade. Below is a partial list of basic tools every machinist should own:

Combination square
Calipers 6 inch
Micrometer 0-1 inch
6 inch 4R scale
Compass and scribe
Box of 3/8 cobalt lathe tool blanks
Bastard & fine file
6 inch machinist square
Name brand 0.0005 and 0.0001 indicator
1 inch dial indicator
Magnetic indicator base
Rubber mallet
Metric and standard hex key sets
Standard and Phillips screwdrivers
Set of metric and standard wrenches
1-2-3 blocks
Set of parallels
and the all important small notebook to log all your daily shop activities.

I hope this has been an informative article and wish you well should you decide to travel the road of becoming a machinist.