A Light at the End of the Tunnel…
From Miners to Machinists
The vision of a transformed Appalachian region drew closer to reality with the Fall 2017 opening of the Haas eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute (eKAMI) in Paintsville, Ky.
“We’re thrilled to bring 21st Century manufacturing to the mountains,” said Kathy Walker, director of eKAMI, who worked for 30 years in the coal industry before establishing the institute. “This is about diversifying the region’s economy and finding sustainable answers, about taking our uniquely talented and hard-working Appalachian workforce of today and preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Students train on state-of-the-art Haas CNC equipment, learning to program, set-up and operate machines that produce parts for industries including aerospace and automotive.
The 40,000 square-foot workforce training facility offers an accelerated 16-week program for adults and a 9-month program for young adults.
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“This is an exciting day,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “The opening of the HAAS’ Eastern Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, as well as its partnership with the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM), will provide the next generation of Kentucky’s skilled workforce with training opportunities in both HAAS CNC machines and robotics. Graduates of eKAMI will attract advanced manufacturers to Johnson County and the surrounding communities. Across the Commonwealth, in every region, Kentucky is moving forward and the future is very bright for our economy,” said Gov. Bevin.
The school’s first class began in November 2017, with students ranging in age from 18 to 55 years. Thanks to private and public grant funding, students have all received scholarships covering the tuition. The program is open to any individual seeking advanced manufacturing training and is expected to draw students from multiple counties in eastern Kentucky and from surrounding states.
eKAMI was initially funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation. It later received a $2.5 million Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mines grant, as well as donations from the private sector, such as Kentucky Power and Pops Chevrolet.
Haas is the #1 American manufacturer of CNC machine tools. Founder Gene Haas, also well known in the motorsports arena, founded NASCAR’s Stewart-Haas Racing and Formula One’s Haas F-1 team.