Autocam Medical recognizes apprenticeship grads

Fourth class of CNC machinist students receive certificates of completion at the AMP Lab.
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Apprentices are employed by Autocam Medical, maintaining a full work schedule during the training period. Courtesy Autocam Medical

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Lab has churned out another group of CNC machinists from its apprenticeship program.

Kentwood-based Autocam Medical, a global contract manufacturer of precision surgical and medical components and devices, said Dec. 3 it presented 11 students with certificates of completion for their computer numerical control (CNC) machinist apprentice program during a Nov. 10 ceremony at the AMP Lab @ Western Michigan University in Grand Rapids.

The event, recognizing the company’s fourth class of graduates, included a few words of motivation and inspiration by John Kennedy IV, general manager of Autocam Medical, and Bill Pink, president of Grand Rapids Community College.

The year-round program requires students to complete over 700 hours of classroom instruction over a period of 90 weeks. Apprentices are employed by Autocam Medical, maintaining a full work schedule during the training period. In addition to CNC machinist certification, the course of study also covers the necessary schooling required by the U.S. Department of Labor for students to receive a certified journeyman card and puts them on the path to receive an associate degree, earning 27 college credits.

GRCC instructor Andy Beach, an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience, said the program has many benefits.

“Autocam Medical’s apprentice program is a win-win; it’s a win for the skilled trades industry and a win for the students,” Beach said. “The students gain skills that put them on a career path with unlimited opportunity, and it helps build a ready workforce for the manufacturing industry, which is starving for CNC machinists.”

As part of their training, students are challenged to machine two intricate objects. The finished projects are reflective of the caliber of machinists produced by the program, Beach said.

Two graduates, Wrindy Hauser and Ethan Richey, recently won a first-place prize in Mastercam’s global Master of CAM Wildest Parts Machining Competition in the teams division for a Thor’s hammer they machined during their apprenticeship.

“Our program is quite uncommon. In addition to the specialized training that our students receive, we pay for 100% of their college tuition and provide them with a full-time job while they are receiving training,” said Kristy White, human resources director for Autocam Medical. “The unique apprenticeship program is a key reason the company was named the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s EPIC Award winner in the Excellence in Business category this year.”

Autocam Medical is a global contract manufacturer of precision-machined drill bits, drivers, screws, plates, cutting tools and other complex, highly engineered surgical implants, instruments and handpieces, as well as other device components. Its specialties are in CNC milling, turning and cutter grinding.

The company is a supplier to medical device manufacturers around the world that focus on orthopedics; spine; robotics; ophthalmology; vascular; ear, nose and throat; general surgical equipment; and diagnostics.

Autocam Medical has achieved ISO 13485:2016 certification and is a Food & Drug Administration registered facility.

In addition to its facilities in Kentwood, Autocam Medical has operations in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Plymouth, Massachusetts; Suzhou, China; and Indaiatuba, Brazil.

Autocam Medical is built around investing in employees and their growth within a culture that trusts and respects every individual, the company said, noting its success depends on the knowledge employees bring to the team every day. Autocam Medical provides employees educational opportunities with no-cost-to-them tuition, and it offers competitive salaries, quarterly bonus incentives, a 401(k) match and a premium-free health plan.

To keep up with Autocam Medical’s ongoing growth in West Michigan, the company will be expanding its footprint with a new plant in Kentwood, which is expected to be ready for occupancy in January, according to a previous Business Journal report.

The expansion will create 250 jobs, and the company will ramp up hiring of machinists, apprentices, engineers and technicians in 2022. Those interested in job opportunities can contact Kristy White at kwhite@autocam-medical.com.

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