COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A new chapter in technical education opens as the Manufacturing Industry Learning Labs (MiLL) national training center welcomes its first students.

The new training center’s first semester will start with Beginning Cabinet Manufacturing 1/2 and second year Cabinet Manufacturing 3/4.

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Equipment is set up and will be powered this week. Machines include eight TigerStops, Timesavers sander, Weeke CNC router, Stiles edgebander, Altendorf table saw, SCM case clamp, Striebig panel saw, JLT clamping systems, many Kreg products and Rikon machinery.

The dust collection is expected to be fully installed within a week. The final inspection should be completed within the next 14 days. 

When the school bell rings, the MiLL will have about 100 beginning students from Widefield and Fort Carson districts in Colorado Springs.

The new training center will also be teaching Cabinet Manufacturing 3/4 to returning students who had been bused to Peyton last year from the Widefield district. 

Coming in September will be CTE training for industrial arts teachers and administrators who want to bring professional, industry-oriented programs to their classrooms. They will be taught on new manufacturing and teaching techniques.

The MiLL is going to provide the woodworking curriculum. The teachers will be in MiLL classrooms for five days. Curriculum will include machines and tools. Bessey, Kreg and other companies will bundle tools, clamps, screws and glue, all on top of the machines on pallets for these teachers.

CTE training still planned to start Sept. 27-29 and will also be held in November, February and April.

An industry-education partnership is making the MiLL happen. MiLL is the new name for the National Manufacturing Training Center, established last year in Colorado Springs by the Peyton and Widefield School Districts.

FDMC and Woodworking Network spoke with Dean Mattson earlier in the summer. Mattson, who is leading much of the effort, said there were 64 industry partners involved in the training center, including 20 that have joined since the WIC conference in April. The MiLL is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance.

The 46,000 square foot training center will be used for manufacturing training for high school, college and industry. The IWF management committee and its owner groups WMMA and WMIA made a $25,000 donation that was given to the MILL from the IWF Fair.

Sherwin-Williams recently made an exclusive 10-year exclusive agreement with MiLL, and is providing finishing supplies to the training center. Also, Timesavers-DuBois and Black Bros. are working to develop a cabinet finishing center. Kreg and Bessey have been strong supporters of the program.

Stiles Machinery Inc. has been a major supporter of the program, and has already supplied a number of machines to the Colorado Springs training center. Equipment has arrived from other companies this summer.

“All of the technology that has been needed, $3 million so far, has been dedicated to the MiLL,” Mattson said. “The equipment suppliers have been totally supportive and have designated equipment to provide to the MiLL. The manufacturers still own the equipment.”In the fall of 2015, Peyton 23-JT Superintendent Tim Kistler hired Dean Mattson to teach state-of-the-art woodworking manufacturing classes. Mattson is a former professional cabinetmaker who started a similar program at a high school in Oregon that was a success. The program became known as the Peyton Woods Manufacturing Program. 

Widefield School District Superintendent Scott Campbell was impressed by the potential of the program and took the opportunity to get his students involved.

The success of the program, in less than a year, prompted Mattson, Kistler and Campbell to create a partnership that will allow the program to expand. The two school districts entered into a partnership through the Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus. 

Also, Mattson said that MiLL has reached agreements with Red Rocks Community College and Pikes Peak Community College. Military veterans can also use G.I. Bill funding, through a community college, to get training at the MiLL.

Equipment companies can send their own employees to be trained on CNC machining centers, edgebanders, and boring machines.

They are also working with Rikon, which will provide or lease machines such as drill presses, band saws and table saws. Stiles Machinery plans to lease high-end equipment to teachers at an affordable rate.

“They get all 60 of our manufacturing partners when they buy the curriculum from MiLL,” Mattson said. “(In the past) that’s what made career technical education so cumbersome.”

Mattson had said that businesses often start small and then grow. The MiLL is a startup that will grow.

For more information contact: Tim Kistler, superintendent:    kistler@peyton.k12.co.us, Dean Mattson, Founder & President, The MiLL:  deanmattson@peyton.k12.co.us, Rosemary Mattson, Executive Assistant to Dean Mattson:  rosemarymattson@peyton.k12.co.us

Or go to the MiLL's website and provide an email to get updates and more information: http://themillco.org.

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