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After 10 weeks of hitting the books and trekking across campus, the inaugural class of Catawba Valley Community College's Manufacturing Academy received their certificate of completion.

The Manufacturing Academy at CVCC opened its doors to students in October 2015.  It's an industry-driven training course designed by local manufacturers to prepare students for manufacturing positions that are in high demand by many of the region's largest employers.

The 10-week course includes classes such as manufacturing overview, problem solving, math and measurements, teamwork and communication and safety.

Standard professors teach the math portion of the program but there are around 200 companies (including individuals from the automotive industry) involved in the program and they send professionals to teach portions of the class.

Michael Krammerer of Hickory graduated with the inaugural class earlier in December.  He is currently working as a senior quality technician at HSM Solutions in Hickory.

Krammerer believes the education he got via the Manufacturing Academy gives him a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  In addition, the tools he received in lean manufacturing as well as the math and the measurements help him to do his job better than he could before.  It also allows him to bring these tools into the plant to teach people there at the ground level.

What exactly is lean manufacturing?

"It is about being more efficient, more productive, being able to lower costs, streamline production," Krammerer said.  "It is where manufacturing is now or is heading really fast."

Basically, lean manufacturing involves doing more with less by employing "lean thinking."  Lean manufacturing involves never-ending efforts to eliminate or reduce waste or any activity that consumes resources without adding value in design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service processes.  This is known as "muda" - Japanese for waste or any activity that consumes resources without adding value.

These principles do not necessarily apply just to manufacturing but to any type of business.

The students are also exposed to Six Sigma Methodology which is an innovative and adaptive set of methodologies geared toward improving the efficiency and effectiveness of corporate processes.  It's about being able to define those areas in manufacturing that you can cut costs, be more efficient and increase profitability.

For example, if a manufacturer has a problem with an overseas supplier, they not only have to wait until something can be done to resolve the issue but they are also stuck with all of the inventory in the pipeline or coming over on ships.

"That can be a tremendous loss having to deal with that," Krammerer said.  "One of the great things about lean manufacturing and the evolution of the older style of the industry is to be able to react quickly to customers.  To be able to manage inventory and respond to customers is one of the key selling points in American manufacturing."

"We believe the Manufacturing Academy, with its dynamic curriculum and practical training, offers job seekers in our community a unique opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to enjoy a long-term career in manufacturing," Barbara Nograsek, Human Resources Manager of Sarstedt, Inc., said.  "Knowing that a job applicant has already obtained these skills when they start employment with Sarstedt, Inc. Is a tremendous benefit to our company."

Joe Lutz, Human Resources Director for Turbotec Products in Newton, another of the sponsoring manufacturers believes that "in order to be competitive, manufacturers have to do a new kind of thinking."

"Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Five S are all things that we have to have in order to be competitive with other folks in our own industry domestically and internationally," Lutz said.  "The Manufacturing Academy does not try to make them experts -- but it does try to make sure that they've been exposed to all those sorts of concepts.  It also works on soft skills, communication, team work, problem solving."

A new session of the Manufacturing Academy will be beginning Jan. 25 and running through March 23.  Classes meet Monday through Thursday from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.  For more information contact Jennifer Eversole at 828-327-7000 x4294 or visit


  1. Alexy Trott's avatar
    Alexy Trott
    | Permalink
    My name is Alexy S. Trott

    and I'm going to be a new student in your class tonight at the East Campus in Hickory,nc
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