AUBURN — Central Maine Community College announced Tuesday it has received $1 million to help expand and renovate the precision machining technology lab on the Auburn campus.

The $1 million grant came from the Gene Haas Foundation; the improved lab will be named the “Gene Haas Precision Machining Technology Center,” Dean of Planning and Public Affairs Roger Philippon said in a prepared statement.

Work on the project is expected to begin in 2017. The first phase will involve an interior renovation of more than 5,000 square feet, including relocating the quality control room, offices, computer class and locker room.

Phase two will build a 3,600-square-foot addition for new equipment and improvements to lighting, mechanical ventilation and electrical power systems.

The expansion will provide a larger, safer and more professional lab environment, Philippon said. It will also allow companies to rent more time on equipment, even when classes are ongoing.

The region has 34 precision metal and wood manufacturers who have used the college’s training for their employees during the past five years. 

“We expect this trend to grow and the expansion will enable the college to meet that demand,” Philippon said.

CMCC is also training more machining instructors across the country. More than 40 instructors attended teacher training workshops at CMCC this summer.

It is unusual for CMCC to get this kind of gift, Philippon said. “However, we are soon to announce two more major grants that will also help fund this project.”

The budget for the lab renovation has not been finalized, Philippon said.

Founded in 1999 by Haas Automation founder and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas, the Haas Foundation has granted more than $12 million nationally to institutions that advance manufacturing education.

Graduates of precision machining technology work as machine operators, machinists, tool and die makers, quality control inspectors, machine assemblers, machine tool designers, program or field services representatives, according to the college.

For years, the Haas Automation Foundation has been a generous supporter of CMCC’s precision machining technology program, Philippon said.

The formal presentation of the award was made at the Annual Manufacturing Educator Conference in July. In collaboration with the Haas Technical Education Center, the college hosted that international event for almost 200 computer precision machining instructors from across the United States, Canada and South Africa.


Submitted photo. Kathy Looman, center, administrator for the Gene Haas Foundation, and Peter Zierhut, right, vice president with Haas Automation, have given a $1 million grant to Central Maine Community College. On the left is CMCC President Scott Knapp. 

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