On December 16th, 2008, Haas Automation Europe celebrated the grand opening of yet another new Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC), this time in Austria. The new facility – based at the technical school HTL Saalfelden, about 70Km south of Salzburg – houses 13 Haas machines and is Europe’s biggest HTEC to date.
Around 50 people attended the grand opening, including managers and owners of local manufacturing companies, and also DI Architect Norbert Paulitsch, a director of the school, and Kommerzialrat Hans Rieder, business executive from the school’s board of trustees. Mr. Peter Hall, managing director of Haas Automation Europe and Mr. Walter Ehtreiber, owner and director of the Austrian Haas Factory Outlet (HFO), joined officials in celebrating the opening and welcoming guests to the event.
The European HTEC program was launched to counter what Haas regards as one of the greatest threats to sustainable economic development on the continent: the shortage of talented and motivated young people entering precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills. The program provides Haas Automation CNC machine tools to technical learning establishments in Europe and around the world. As part of their studies, students at HTEC establishments use Haas machines and in the process become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology. With this kind of hands-on experience, they are more employable when they finally leave full time education.
A few fortunate students from the new HTEC were given the opportunity to visit the Haas Automation factory in the USA as short tenure interns. The three students of Mechatronics, between them studying a combination of engineering, mathematics, electrotechnics, physics, construction and programming, were selected to travel to Oxnard, California to witness and study Haas manufacturing techniques first hand. Monja Dankl, Nina Fahrner and Christoph Grübler spent 4 weeks working in several departments during their time at the factory, including the company’s master apprentice training area. When asked about highlights of their trip, all three students cited this particular experience as being of great interest. The Haas Master Apprenticeship Program trains specially chosen apprentices over a 30-month period. The interns attended a variety of the practical and classroom-based lessons from the Haas program, which is designed to provide practical insight into real world manufacturing economy.
After working on several different types of Haas CNC machine tool, Christoph Grübler was full of praise for the Haas control, which has been designed specifically with ease of use and is used across the Haas range.
“In particular I liked the thought that has gone into creating the Haas CNC,” he said. “Using the Haas control is generally much easier and more intuitive than the Austrian built control we have back home.”
Because of the typically high costs, overseas internships are often out of reach for teaching establishments. “Normally it is very difficult to organise internships abroad,” said the students’ teacher, Leendert Lafeber, “In this case, Haas Automation has helped us to finance these internships, establish the contacts and organise the logistics. This was exceptional, really. Normally, students have to find an internship placement by themselves.”
All three students agreed that the internship was a great success. “We’ve been able to share our knowledge back home,” said Monja. “In the practical classes we can help our fellow students and even exchange some tips and tricks with the teachers!”
HTECs are supported by some of the best names in the precision engineering technology sector, including KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma and Chick. Haas plans to open 200 HTEC’s across Europe within 5 years.