Our Main Business is Development

Chris Bare | WCC Director of Industry & Trade Services (top center)

WCC Develops Training to Support Major GE Plant Expansion in Ashe –
SkyLine/SkyBest Provides Fiber Connections to Facilitate Assessments & Training

Pictured at the WCC’s CNC Training Center near GE Aviation, left to right: WCC Ashe Campus Director of Industry and Trade Services Chris Bare, WCC Associate Vice President of Information Technology Services Mike Wingler, WCC Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Education Chris Robinson, WCC President Dr. Jeff Cox and SkyLine/SkyBest Strategic Sales Supervisor Brent Keith.

In addition to providing college transfer, technical degree, vocational and continuing education programs, Wilkes Community College plays a key role in economic development by offering training and re-training for business and industry to assist with job creation, retention and expansion.

In 2014, and as part of the incentive package to attract the

expansion of GE Aviation’s Ashe machining facility, the college worked closely with the company to develop and implement a customized training program as it expanded production of the incredibly popular LEAP (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion) engine, a $153 million-dollar total investment to expand and create 105 new positions. The LEAP will power such platforms as the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737MAX and

COMAC (China) 619 aircraft for airlines worldwide, and the new jobs will involve both rough and finished machining of components for the core of the engine (disks, spools, shafts).

GE Aviation’s John Blevins, Stephanie Barth and Kory Wilcox spearheaded efforts to recruit new qualified employees, collaborating with NC Works and others

including the college, High Country Workforce Development Board, Ashe Chamber of Commerce, Ashe County, the Town of West Jefferson and the Division of Workforce Solutions. Their goal of “10,000 touches” – personal contact with 10,000 people across the region–included career fairs and other GE-coordinated outreach to the community.

SkyLine’s Greg Jones and Kenny Church install Metro-E connections to the CNC Training Center location for Wilkes Community College.

“We have more equipment at this temporary location than what a lot of community colleges have on their main campuses, and our applied science degree program is transferrable to the four-year programs at ETSU, UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University,”

WCC provided GE a total training package valued at $1.2 million with funding through the N.C. Community College system and also received a $200,000 grant from the Golden LEAF foundation to support the purchase of much of the required training equipment. With limited space at the Ashe Campus to house all of the new state-of-the-art machinery valued at more than $300,000, the college leased a temporary facility at the former Tigra location to house its new standalone CNC Training Center. SkyLine/SkyBest provided WCC the necessary fiber connections for remote access to the entire campus network.

WCC Associate Vice President of Information Technology Services Mike Wingler worked with SkyLine’s Strategic Sales Supervisor Brent Keith on the project to link the college’s network resources to the new training facility. “The Metro-E connection through SkyLine/SkyBest is so valuable to the college because it provided significant cost savings by

allowing us to access the college’s centralized security protection and licensing server for the computer programs used on the Center’s classroom PCs and simulation lab,” Wingler said.

John Blevins, site training facilitator at GE’s Ashe facility, also stressed the importance of having SkyLine/SkyBest’s reliable and robust connection to facilitate the numerous phases of application and pre-hire activities taking place. “There was not a lot of margin for error due to a high reliance on the network to conduct all these sessions in a timely manner.”

To meet GE Aviation’s need, a multi-step application screening process was used through Select International, which included an online application and skills assessment, a 40-hour preemployment training and in-depth new hire training. Additionally, the existing GE workforce received skills necessary for upgrading the facility to the LEAP specifications. Chris Bare, Director of Industry and

Trade Services for the Ashe Campus, was appointed as the primary trainer for the GE project.

“This project has enabled us to meet GE’s training needs and to enhance our curriculum,” Bare said. The training includes introductory and advanced CNC (Computer Numerical Control) courses and a CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Manufacturing) program. “The instruction at this facility, which encompasses blueprint reading,

simulation, machining set-up, operation and measurement, can be used in other manufacturing applications and supports WCC’s associate degree program in applied engineering with a concentration in machining and maintenance. “

When the project is complete, the college will get to keep the equipment to use in its existing curriculum. “We have more equipment at this temporary location

than what a lot of community colleges have on their main campuses, and our applied engineering degree program is transferrable to the four-year programs at ETSU, UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University, among others,” Bare said.

To date, GE has extended 106 job offers with a 92 percent acceptance rate toward its employee goal. The training program is expected to extend through the first quarter of 2017.

At one of the CNC machining centers used for training and instruction, WCC’s Chris Bare discusses the control sequence with Jesse Hall of GE.

GE Aviation

share-iconGE Aviation is expanding production of the LEAP Engine at its Ashe machining facility. A global leader in jet engine and aircraft system production, GE Aviation employs approximately 40,000 people and operates more than 80 facilities around the world, including four sites in North Carolina: Asheville, Durham, Wilmington and West Jefferson.


dual-page-iconEstablished in 1964, Wilkes Community College is a public, two-year, open-door institution and part of the state’s 58-member community college system. Along with the main campus in Wilkesboro, the college has satellite campuses in Ashe and Alleghany counties.