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MCC’s Machine Tool & Die program preparing for a career

Machine Tool & Die Alumni Dustin Aikin

Dustin Aikin in the MCC Machine Tool and Die Technology program lab.

MARSHALLTOWN – Marshalltown Community College’s Machine Tool and Die program prepared MCC Alumni Dustin Aikin to go through the program directly into the workforce with the skills he needs and uses daily.

Aikin, a 2012 West Marshall graduate, didn’t take the route most high school graduates take going into the workforce or directly into college. He joined the Marine Corp right after high school and served active duty for five years. After that time, he was looking for an education and training that would take him quickly into earning an income with the skills he needed to succeed.

He found what he was looking for in MCC’s Machine Tool and Die Technology program. “I really enjoyed my time at MCC. For me, it was a little different because I was a veteran. Coming from the military to MCC was a little more like a vacation,” joked Aikin. “The whole experience was relaxing for me.” Outside of the classroom Aikin also served as the President of the Veterans program as well as being a Senator on the Student Senate.

Aikin earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in Machine Tool and Die Technology through the two-year program and completed and graduated in May 2020 and is currently employed with Marshalltown Co., a plant in Marshalltown that makes hand trowels, texture guns, mixers and bigger cement equipment. Aikin’s role at the company is to make the tooling needed to produce these items and more.

“The things I am doing now, I learned ahead of time while attending MCC. A lot of the basic skills I learned in the first year of the program I use almost every day. The things I learned in the second year of the program are more specialized but I still use some of that too.”

Some of the skills that Aikin learned during the program include programming, print reading, manual mills, saws, grinder, CNC mill, CNC lathe. “The machines I use in my current job, I worked on at MCC. When I do run into machines that may not have been at MCC, I use parts of what I learned at MCC and apply it to these machines.”

Aikin also uses the skills he learned at MCC outside of his job. “I do woodworking and I use the math skills that I had at MCC for that and I also started getting into my own machine programming.”

When asked if he would recommend the Machine Tool and Die Technology program he commented, “I definitely would! The biggest thing is that this is an in-demand career. Companies are always looking for hardworking individuals with the skills I learned through this program. They are finding out that employees are harder to find which is helping increase the pay all the time. What I earned after earning my two-year degree is worth it!”

Al Parks, MCC Machine Trades Faculty, was another big benefit of the program in Aikin’s opinion. “Al was a great instructor. The biggest thing about Al that he brings to the program is that he has worked in the field in so many different areas of tool and die. He can relate everything he teaches to multiple areas so the training can benefit more than one person directly.”

Aikin’s education at MCC was completely covered by the funding he received through the Veterans Associate and the Last-Dollar Scholarship he received his second year. One hundred percent of his tuition and books were covered through these grants. Receiving the extra funding helped not only with his schooling but helped to ease some of the financial expenses outside of school. During this second year at MCC the uncertain times of COVID began. He was interning at the time at Marshalltown Co. and they had begun letting interns go. The financial support took the burden off worrying about tuition and expenses. “Being in the military I also received a housing allowance while I was going to school through post 9/11 support.”

Marshalltown Co. has been a great place for Aikin to start his career. “I really like my job. I have been there for just over a year but even during that short time the amount of growth they have done is just amazing. They are constantly expanding.”

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