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Workforce Wednesday: Jose Villanueva discovers CNC machine tooling and plans a new career

Sept. 1, 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.

Jose Villanueva wasn’t sure what Computer Numeric Control Machine Tooling was when he first saw it was offered by GRCC’s Job Training Program.

“I had no clue what it was! I follow a YouTuber from Australia who is an engineer. As I was watching him, I realized that he was working with CNC. Then I saw what he was doing and I said, that’s it, that is what I want to do!”

A machinist or CNC technician shapes metal and various materials to precise dimensions for parts 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.

“It doesn’t feel like school at all. It feels like I am coming to work,” said Villanueva, a 2016 Grandville High School graduate.

The GRCC Job Training CNC Machine Tool program meets for 18 weeks for 34 hours per week. The program offers small class sizes, hands-on learning and job placement assistance. The Machine Tool/CNC program has recently been updated to better meet the industry needs.

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.

Villanueva is new to the program, but really likes it and appreciates instructor Andy Beach.

“Andy does a really great job of explaining things,” he said. “He breaks everything down in completely different ways. I’ve been learning so much already. I never thought I would be doing something like this. If anyone is interested I would tell them to try it out! It’s worth the shot!”

Villanueva qualified for federal financial aid, but also was eligible for the GRCC M-TEC Champions program. He’s also one of the first recipient of a new program, One Workforce. He has no out of pocket cost.

 “I was pretty happy when I heard the news! I just didn’t believe it! I feel pretty lucky!”

Villanueva likes working with his hands and plans to continue building his skills.

“Once I receive my certificate I’d like to take the welding program as well so that I have a really well-rounded skillset.”

The next section of Job Training programs begins October 18, 2021.

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

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