Fullerton College: Stemming the Manufacturing Skills Gap with metrology Training

Thought leaders say we are experiencing a fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). No doubt, innovation in manufacturing technology is accelerating rapidly, but there’s a problem: the ever-growing complexity oftools and processes makes it increasingly difficult for manufacturing companies to find professionals with the required skills to meet their evolving requirements.

Deloitte estimates that by 2028 the skills gap will leave the U.S. with 2.4 million manufacturing jobs unfilled. The effects of this gap would be felt beyond the manufacturing industry, in turn impacting job creation and productivity across other sectors.

To help meet this demand, we need to harness industry expertise and technological innovation to create more training opportunities for manufacturing newcomers and professionals alike, developing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

STEM and the future of manufacturing skills

In late 2017, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America announced a partnership with Fullerton College, and as of October 2018 this college based in Orange County began offering one of the only community college level metrology certificate programs in California.

Fullerton’smetrology course is an extension of the college’s machine tool program. The goal is to produce professionals who can turn their hand to a range of tasks on the factory floor, so students learn a range of functional skills including using machine tools, CNC machine set-up and operation, advanced CNC programming using SURFCAM CAM software, and theory of measurement. Dan O’Brien, Instructor and Machine Technology Department Coordinator at Fullerton, tells his students “you need to be expert-level inspectors to be expert-level machinists and CNC programmers.”

Manufacturers are increasingly adopting new digital inspection solutions alongside more traditional metrology methods, so it’s important that students gain confidence in a range of measurement technologies and skills. To do so, Fullerton’s students use a number of Hexagon solutions including two 4.5.4 SF coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and 12 Absolute Arms. Some of the Absolute Arms have an integrated laser scanner, meaning students can practice high-end 3D data capture, learning how toincrease inspection speed and use data productively.

Developing metrology software skills

Students also learn how to collect and evaluate measurement data in the widely-used PC-DMIS metrology software. An application course focuses on training students to create inspection routines and produce reports that meet ISO and AS standard requirements. Much of the curriculum uses Hexagon’s training from learning.hexagonmi.com, which Dan says “allows us to keep the training in-line with how users of PC-DMIS use the software with the Absolute Arms and the CMMs.”

The program is funded in part by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the California Strong Workforce Program, responding to local demand from advanced manufacturing companies. Not only is the program offering a well-prepared workforce for Fullerton’s industrial base, but the certification can act as a springboard for students to continue their education with university-level manufacturing and mechanical engineering courses.

Initiatives like these help plant the seeds for the future of manufacturing. If someone can walk straight out of college and through a company’s doors and say “I can run your CMMs; I can write your programs; I can do your blueprints” – that person will be very valuable.

Today that person can be hard to find, but such programs offer an incredible opportunity. By combining the expertise and technology capabilities of manufacturers and educational institutions, we can stem the skills gap and help create a bright, productive future for manufacturing.

For more information on Fullerton College’s machine technology courses, visit https://ce.fullcoll.edu/programs/machine-technology/.


  • Scott Zanio

    Scott Zanio is a Metrology Sales Engineer at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. Zanio collaborates with customers in the Lake Forest, California area to provide optimized measurement solutions for unique engineering challenges. With deep metrology, hardware, software, design tools, simulation and product lifecycle skills, Zanio adds value to projects by tailoring deliverables to specific needs, applications and budgets.

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