ACTC now offering machining class

Published 8:32 am Friday, December 20, 2019

ASHLAND, Ky. — ACTC’s Computerized Manufacturing and Machining program is enrolling students for the spring semester.

ACTC offers two diplomas and three certificates to prepare graduates for machine shop employment. Certificate and diploma credits may be applied toward an Associate in Applied Science Degree in General Occupational/Technical Studies.

Danny Pancake, program coordinator, said the CMM program provides students with the training necessary to obtain high-paying jobs in precision manufacturing.

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“This program is important because it’s the only machine tool training program left in this part of eastern Kentucky,” said Pancake. “There is always a demand for good machinists, and we play a vital role in preparing and supplying qualified individuals to the workforce in the Tri-State.”

According to Pancake, some of the key elements of CMM are using highly specialized manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools to cut various metals or other materials into a finished product to be sold as is or to be an ingredient part for a different assembly. Machinists make things like pulleys, gears, shafts, gear cases, hydraulic parts, pistons, pump seals, controller cases, engine and drive train parts for autos, trucks, tractors. They also make parts for trains, cranes and other heavy equipment as well as electrical parts and multitudes of machined parts for almost every industry imaginable.

“Nearly every finished metal product has to go through the hands of a machinist somewhere to be manufactured to exact dimensions,” Pancake said. “Students completing the CMM program can expect to find jobs in many of the local industries in the Tri-State. There are many machining facilities nearby and most of them are in need of machinists. There is variety in the end product of industry, but their needs are similar. They need trained people that are serious about their craft and people that are committed to doing the job well. We are here to teach the basics of the machining trade and to bring quality employees to the fill the vacancies.”

Pancake has been a machinist since 1975. When he completed his training, he got a job at a local machine shop and then later with National Mine Service and Marathon Industries. In 1990 he became an instructor at the former Ashland Technical College. He retired from ACTC in 2014 but recently rejoined the college.

“I was recently asked to come back, and I have enthusiastically returned to teach the trade I love,” Pancake said.

Anyone considering joining the CMM program should have attention to detail, consistency and good hand-eye coordination for accuracy, Pancake said.

“These students must enjoy doing things well and doing them right every time,” he said. “This is learned behavior because the machinery will perform excellent work but there must be someone guiding the process to a successful conclusion.”

Pancake encourages high school juniors or seniors who want duel credit classes to contact him, as well as displaced workers or recent high school graduates looking to learn a new skill, to set up a tour of the ACTC’s CMM shop at the Technology Drive Campus.

“I know you’ll be impressed,” he said.

Pancake can be reached by email at

— All three ACTC campuses will be closed until Monday, Jan. 6.