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A Closer Look at Saddleback College's Advanced Manufacturing Program
Saddleback College, a public community college in Mission Viejo, California, is renowned for its impressive programs in liberal arts, science, and technology. One such program is the Advanced Manufacturing program, led by the dedicated and skilled department chair, Glenn Stevenson. In collaboration with Paton Group (an H2I Group company acquired in 2019), this program has grown to offer students cutting-edge technology and real-world experiences that are shaping the future of manufacturing and education.
The Advanced Manufacturing program at Saddleback College was initially born out of a National Science Foundation grant for additive manufacturing. Glenn Stevenson, who teaches the Design, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Prototyping courses, has always prioritized incorporating diverse technologies in the classroom. The program’s technology lab is an impressive, modern space filled with state-of-the-art equipment, including Stratasys 3D Printers, CNC machines, Metal Printers, and much more.
Stevenson’s long-standing relationship with Paton Group has been instrumental in the program’s success. Paton Group’s support, expertise, and connections have allowed the program to acquire cutting-edge equipment and keep up with new technology developments. “The connection through [Paton Group | H2I Group] was invaluable with the affordability of some of the equipment. The ability to get new technology as it came out or to take what we had and upgrade it was just very valuable,” said Stevenson, “I don’t think I’d be here in this facility if I didn’t have that connection.”
Saddleback College’s Advanced Manufacturing program offers its students hands-on experience with real-world projects. “I did not want this to be just a course on 3d printing and model making. It had to grow into something that was much broader, you know, using jigs and fixtures and designing your own parts and making those to make other things work – the real-world application of it,” said Stevenson. As a result, students have provided valuable resources and support for the local community by creating prosthetic hands for young children, incorporating additive manufacturing into a local food-tech company, supporting local businesses with training, innovation and more.
An unexpected and fascinating find on campus added another dimension to the program’s real-world experiences. During the construction of the Saddleback College campus, a prehistoric dolphin skull was unearthed. The skull was initially used in the college’s art and science programs until it was accidentally dropped and damaged. Stevenson used the accident as an opportunity to demonstrate the power of technology in preserving valuable artifacts. He and his students meticulously 3D scanned the skull in color and printed life-sized replicas on the ProJet printer. The replica skulls were then given to the art and science departments, allowing students to continue studying its unique features, while the original remained safely in storage.
Stevenson’s commitment to real-world applications has helped students excel in various career paths after graduation, such as sales, quality control, and manufacturing. Roger Furlong, a Paton Group | H2I Group Technical Products Sales Consultant, and former student, praised Stevenson’s approach to education, emphasizing the importance of real-world experiences and professionalism. “I’ve been a student of his,” said Furlong, “[Stevenson] treats everything on the professional level. He shows how you have to do it in the real world, and I think that’s key because not every not every instructor these days does that.”
As Glenn Stevenson approaches retirement, his legacy at Saddleback College’s Advanced Manufacturing program is a testament to the power of innovative education and collaboration. He hopes to see enrollment increase and continued support for the program through grant funding, ensuring that future generations can benefit from the same opportunities that have empowered his students to succeed.
Paton Group is proud to have played a part in the development and success of this outstanding program at Saddleback College. By working together with passionate educators like Glenn Stevenson, we can help shape the future of manufacturing and technology education, providing invaluable experiences and opportunities for students and local communities.
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