MIDDLESBORO, Ky. — Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) serves as a beacon of hope in Appalachia, a region plagued by unemployment, underemployment, and poverty. Within a climate of economic change brought about by the declining coal industry as well as the pandemic, Southeast offers programming that will enable graduates to secure lucrative, high-skilled careers within the region.
According to Southeast Professor Michael Carmack, who coordinates the Computerized Manufacturing and Machining program, students can earn a fast-track credential, and while many choose to return to work quickly, they can still pursue additional certificates that may be stacked or applied towards a degree.
“This program gives you options,” said Carmack. Charles Baker, a father of two who recently graduated with his associate degree, had accumulated over 20 years in the coal industry prior to enrolling at Southeast. Following the well-publicized Black Jewell bankruptcy and layoff, he took a chance and enrolled. “Starting out, this was way outside my comfort zone,” said Baker. “But Mike Carmack is an excellent instructor, and he gives his students the confidence to learn a new skill.”
Baker’s hard work has paid off. Since April 2021, Baker has worked as a machinist for Komatsu in Duffield, Virginia. Charles said that he is grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue an education at Southeast.
“I love my job at Komatsu, and I know that with this credential, I will always be able to find a job,” he said. Devon Campbell, another recent Southeast graduate, came to the program right out of high school. Initially, he began his studies in healthcare. “I figured out quickly that the medical field was not the right fit for me,” said Campbell. “I heard about CMM, and once I looked into it, I was hooked.”
After graduating last December, Devon began working for Machine Products in Knoxville. “I run a CNC lathe, and we work on a variety of parts, depending on what the customer wants,” he said. “It’s always interesting,” Carmack says that his students are successful not only because of their dedication, but also because the College has built remarkable partnerships with local business and industry leaders that have employed Southeast graduates.
“We are fortunate to have such business and industry partners who are willing to work with us and employ our graduates,” he said. When asked what advice he would give someone considering Southeast, Baker does not hesitate. “Go see Erica Farmer on the Harlan Campus,” he said. “She will connect you to the right people.
She helped me find the financial assistance I needed to support my family while I went back to school.” Thankfully, the College is making it even more convenient to enroll in this program. “When I first started at Southeast, I was driving to the Harlan Campus, over an hour each way,” said Campbell.
“Then they added the Middlesboro shop, which really helped a lot.” Southeast currently offers Computerized Manufacturing and Machining classes on its Harlan and Middlesboro campuses with plans to expand to others in the near future. For more information about Computerized Manufacturing and Machining, call 606-589-3206 or visit your nearest campus.
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