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Workforce Wednesday: Gaspar Vizcarra taps Machine Tool/CNC program to upgrade skills

May 26, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. Each Wednesday we’ll meet students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

Gaspar Vizcarra is not new to manufacturing. He’s been working in assembly, quality and machine operation ever since he graduated from high school.

“The problem was I want to operate more complex machines, but I was never given the opportunity to do it.”

Vizcarra learned about the Machine Tool/Computer Numeric Control Job Training Program back in 2017 and began saving his money for the tuition.

“When I found out that I qualified for the Futures for Frontliners I took a little leap of faith. Everything fell into place.”

The Machine Tool/CNC program has recently been updated to provide skills needed to meet industry needs. The new curriculum and brand-new state-of-the-art machine lab, in the Applied Technology Center, is in full swing!

“This program is exactly what I was looking for. The schedule is perfect for me. I saw all these machines -- the lab is amazing. I was nervous about the instructor but Andy Beach makes you feel so comfortable asking questions. If you fail at work a few times you will just get replaced but here when you make a mistake, Andy just teaches you how to do right,” he said.

“I have learned so much in just the first eight weeks, even with all of the experience I had coming in.  Now I am thinking that I really want to be a programmer. Ultimately, I want to design and machine rims for cars.”

What is a machinist or CNC technician? A machinist/CNC technician shapes metal and various materials to precise dimensions by using machine tools. MT/CNC technicians plan and set up the sequence of machine operations in accordance with blueprints, layouts or other instructions to write both manual and computer-generated machine programs.

Skills taught in the program include blueprint reading, basic shop math, read measurement tools and communicate effectively with others using today's Machine Tool/CNC terminology.

“I love that you see a really complex machine but I can go up to it and I know what every button does. I don’t even second guess myself – it’s amazing! I always thought CNC was just about running a machine but to see that I can physically made something from my drawing, I feel so accomplished!”

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at, and by phone at (616) 234-3800. Additional information is at

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