CMM program leads to careers in manufacturing | ACTC

CMM program leads to careers in manufacturing

October 19, 2021


ASHLAND, Ky. – October is Manufacturing Month and Ashland Community and Technical College is proud to be the primary provider of manufacturing training in the Ashland area.

Manufacturing programs at ACTC include Computerized Manufacturing and Machining, Industrial Maintenance Technology, Advanced Integrated Technology, Applied Process Technologies, Welding Technology, Electrical Technology, Computer Aided Drafting and Design and Air Conditioning Technology.

For ACTC alumnus, Jesse Thacker, the Computerized Manufacturing and Machining (CMM) program at ACTC felt like the right fit for him. 

“I chose the CMM program because I knew so many people who had come out of this program and were making good money doing something they enjoyed,” he said.

He says taking a tour of the machine shop at ACTC’s Technology Drive Campus is what sealed the deal.

“The machine shop was jaw-dropping, and to see all of the nice machinery and how maintained the shop was, made it feel like the most professional place to go,” Thacker said.

Thacker’s brother was enrolled in the program at the time and encouraged him to check out the program. He recalls his brother showing him how the lathe worked and being fascinated by the power of that particular machine. 

“I had never been around a machine that cuts metal shavings off of something,” he said. “The power that is inside of that little tiny machine was incredible. Then I started thinking about all of the things I could make for myself.”

Thacker graduated with a CNC machinist diploma in 2011. He is currently employed by Marathon Petroleum. 

 “Enrolling in the CMM program made me feel like I had a promising future, and that was the biggest thing for me,” Thacker said. “I wanted to be able to have a future and a career in whatever I was about to do next.” 

Thacker said making the projects for the classes was the most enjoyable part of the program for him. 

“I still have everything I made in my toolbox at home, and if it’s not in my toolbox, it is showcased somewhere in my house. Everyone was competing with each other to make their project look better than the other guy’s,” he said. “Dan gave us things to make that we can use, so that was really cool.” 

Through classroom instruction, students in the CMM program receive a hands-on experience learning to position work pieces, adjust machines and verify the accuracy of machine functions and finished products.

Thacker said his experience in the program increased his confidence as he began his career. 

“I walked into a machine shop for my first job out of the program and within a week or two, I was working without any guidance from the owner. I basically went in there knowing exactly what I needed to do.”

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.

“Machining is one of the oldest skilled trades there is,” Thacker said. “It started out as blacksmithing and hammering pieces of metal together to make it fit. Today, people are still hammering pieces of metal together to make it fit, plus everything else we are doing in machining.”

Learn more about the CMM program by visiting