Spotlight on Pinellas Technical College’s Manufacturing Programs

The Tampa Bay Region is rife with manufacturing, and Pinellas Technical College (PTC), one of FLATE’s educational
partners in Pinellas County, FL, has several programs that are geared to help meet local/regional manufacturers’ demand for skilled technicians. PTC offers an array of full time certificate programs, apprenticeships and short term courses at its St. Petersburg and Clearwater campuses. Assistant Director, Eric McClendon says the programs offered at PTC are geared to provide quality educational opportunities that meet students’ educational needs as well as the skillset requirement of local businesses and industries. “We offer a problem-solving atmosphere that allows students to learn and be excited about their chosen field of study” McClendon said.

The hallmark of PTC’s Manufacturing programs is defined by its emphasis on real-world, employable skills that can be applied across an array of technical areas and industries. The Automation and Production Technology (APT) program, Digital Design, Machining, and Welding Technologies program are six to 15 month programs that prepare students for entry level jobs in various capacities within the manufacturing industry. Current student enrollment figures in all of these manufacturing programs, that include APT, machining, welding and digital design, is 99 with 34 students in the machining program, 54 in the welding program and 11 in the digital design program. Upon graduation, graduates from the APT program can use their credits to earn an A.S degree in electronics engineering technology and/or digital design, graduates from the digital design program can earn an A.S in statewide graphics technology, while graduates from the Machining and Welding programs can transfer credits to earn an A.S degree in industrial management technology.
Central to PTC’s manufacturing programs is also the opportunity for students to earn industry certifications. “Industry recognizes and values certifications. It also increases compensation and employability opportunities” said McClendon. Graduates from the APT program can earn the MSSC CPT certificate, Digital Design program can earn an Adobe Certified Associate certificate in InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Graduates from the welding program have the opportunity to earn the American Welding Society (AWS) Certification.

PTC has been offering the machining apprentice program since the mid 90’s. For students enrolled in the machining program, the machining program offers diverse hands-on opportunities to work with the latest CNC equipment beginning with the basics on manual lathes and mills. Training includes manufacturing, using safe and efficient work practices including shop math, layout, blueprint reading, and inspecting parts to blueprint specifications and tolerances, computer literacy and employability skills.
Students can earn the NIMS certified machinist apprenticeship, NIMS CNC set-up programmer—milling and turning apprenticeships, NIMS certified tool & die maker apprenticeship to name a few. The NIMS program is competency based which means completion of the program can be attained in as little as two years, or can take four years depending on the number of certifications a student chooses to earn. “The NIMS system affords maximum flexibility for trainees and employers alike.” The system enables trainees to advance at their own pace in defined career ladders throughout the metalworking industry. On the other hand, “using attained competencies in lieu of a rigid set of hours, employers are able to effectively monitor and measure progress and reward individual initiative” McClendon said.

Given its industry-driven career and technical programs, PTC has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with statewide organizations like FLATE that are committed to excellence in technician education and training. PTC participated on the planning committee that submitted the proposal to NSF for the FLATE Center, and provided input and support towards a very successful end result. “FLATE has done an outstanding job providing a means for all educational institutions to share, develop and leverage resources to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing employers of Florida” said McClendon. This partnership and support of educational partners like PTC has also enabled FLATE to formulate strategic outreach programs that showcase manufacturing and career pathways available to students across Florida. In 2016 PTC hosted an open house during Manufacturing Day/Month and has been doing so for the past few years. Pinellas Technical College’s Clearwater campus will also serve as the host site for the upcoming FLATE Industrial Advisory Committee meeting. Details about the upcoming meeting on January 19 are posted at

For more information on PTC’s manufacturing programs, apprenticeships and related industry certifications contact Director, Jake Prokop at and Assistant Director, Eric McClendon at ext. 2097, or visit For information on FLATE’s career and technical education resources visit the Made in Florida website at and FLATE’s Wiki at, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at

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