KEARNEY — Central Community College officials are excited about the opportunity a new scholarship gives them to jump-start an advanced manufacturing degree program at their new Kearney Center.

HAAS, the company that manufactures many of the machines used for training at the CCC Kearney Center, has provided $16,000 for scholarships to teach computer numeric control. Known more commonly as CNC, computer numeric control is used to guide fabrication machines, meaning that machining and other manufacturing processes can be automated for more precision and speed.

CNC is a valued skill in manufacturing sectors, said Bradley Keasling, CCC’s associate dean of Business and Skilled Technical Sciences.

Certified CNC workers can earn $35,000 to $60,000 per year, Keasling said, and there’s a shortage of CNC workers in the Kearney area.

This semester 16 students are learning CNC at the Kearney Center, Keasling said. “I would like to see that number up in the next several years to at least 30.”

Keasling said the HAAS scholarship means that people with the desire to learn CNC, but who are lacking the tuition to enroll in classes, now have an opportunity to pursue their ambitions.

“It’s an opportunity for someone who has wanted to be a part of that program and didn’t have the money. They now can try it out,” said Keasling, referring to CCC’s advanced manufacturing design technology program.

The scholarship is open to current full-time and part-time manufacturing design students, as well as new students and for high school students age 16 or older. Keasling said training sessions coincide with the fourth and fifth blocks — 1-3:45 p.m. — at Kearney High School, which is adjacent to CCC at 30th Avenue and 11th Street in southwest Kearney.

For people interested in the scholarship, application forms now are available at the Kearney Center’s front desk or financial aid office. Applications must be completed by the close of business on Dec. 21.

The first scholarships will be awarded for the spring semester that begins in January. Keasling said students who earn certification in CNC can advance to other CCC courses and earn two-year degrees.

“If you have a certificate and a diploma we’re confident you can be released to a manufacturer and be employable,” he said.

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