Commencement Focus: Next-generation machinist finds her calling in metalworking

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Kennedy Godfrey standing in Sylvania machining shop.

Kennedy Godfrey is the future of machining.

Portland Community College machine manufacturing students are learning the latest techniques on state-of-the-art tools as they train to become the future of machinists in Oregon.

They have plenty of options. The PCC OMIC Training Center, located at the Columbia County Center, provides access to academic, workforce training, community enrichment programs and support services. And PCC’s Machine Manufacturing Technology (MMT) Program at the Sylvania Campus in Southwest Portland and the Mechatronics Lab at the Willow Creek Opportunity Center in Hillsboro provide great opportunities for students.

“With advancements in manufacturing technology, there is a growing need for trained manufacturing professionals,” said Patty Hawkins, program dean of PCC Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology. “The OMIC Center helps new students and adults enter these exciting, well-paying, in-demand careers with career training, certifications and job search support. The newly built, state-of-the-art training facility also has the latest equipment and technology and flexible learning options that will work for students. There are opportunities to learn advanced trades like manufacturing, welding, and technical design.”

2023 grad waves.

2024 Commencement

Godfrey and thousands of PCC grads will be honored as part of the class of 2024. The college’s commencement ceremony takes place at 7 p.m., Friday, June 14 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum where thousands of newly minted graduates will celebrate their degrees and certificates with family and friends.

Learn more about Graduation

These skilled, soon-to-be employees are much-needed as the industry is falling short due to senior machinists’ retirements. While only 29% of U.S. manufacturing employees identify as female, Hillsboro’s Kennedy Godfrey is undeterred, “Trades are where it’s at!” About to graduate this spring term with an associate’s degree in Machine Manufacturing, Godfrey hopes to soon be working as a machinist for an intermediate sized shop (less than 50 employees).

“I was on the FIRST Robotics team as a main builder at Hillsboro High School,” said Godfrey, who custom-built 40-pound robots with 3-D printing to compete. Using her hands this creative way hooked her, starting the plan to become a machinist.

With machine manufacturing training, the Oregon Employment Department forecasts that machinist employment in the Portland area will grow 10.9% through 2027 and the average annual salary is nearly $60,000. The MMT program is focused on the computer-aided manufacturing software to control, manipulate, and manage precision computer numerically controlled machinery, further solidifying the college’s reputation as a leading provider of hands-on training in advanced manufacturing and drawing in students throughout the region who are in-demand in the industry.

“I picked PCC since it was a college close to home, and my brother was attending the PCC automotive program,” said Godfrey, who first enrolled at the college during the pandemic and has persisted into her third year while working part-time as a lifeguard. Godfrey received the Oregon Promise grant and financial aid while studying at PCC. Because she kept a busy schedule, she especially appreciated the flexible hours in the MMT Program that allowed her to work and get her hands-on shop time and studying done.

Kennedy Godfrey working a CNC in Sylvania machining shop.When asked how her background prepared her for the trigonometry used in machining, she shared that while she does not consider herself the strongest math student, Godfrey said that she uses computer short cuts. She found smart work-arounds like using a CAD program and a Google spreadsheet to solve her assignments.

“As for my favorite aspect of the classes, I like that at the beginning of the term I can get all the blueprints at once. For whatever classes you are taking, all the projects are due by the end of the term. It’s nice just having the one due date for most of the project classes as it makes everything feel a little less stressful,” said Godfrey.

To get started, visit the Machine Manufacturing Technology webpage.

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About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for a decade. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magazine and as a contribu... more »