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TMCC is preparing students for Tesla jobs

Now that Tesla will be setting up shop in Storey County to make batteries for its electric cars, Truckee Meadows Community College is planning to develop more programs for skilled high-tech workers.  Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports that the school will build on what it already has to offer.

Laure’l Santos, who teaches machining at TMCC, is demonstrating a type of technology commonly used in factories. It’s a CNC machine, which stands for Computer Numerical Control, and it uses computer commands to make customized components, like the thumb-size aluminum part Santos has just made for a circuit board class project. 


In this workshop, students are getting hands-on experience operating equipment that’s used by all types of manufacturers.

“Everything around you," Santos says, "starts with machining--everything.  If you go to a Wal-mart Supercenter, everything in there started with machining.”

According to Santos, his students are using equipment that’s likely similar to what would be running at Tesla’s gigafactory, which will employ about 6,500 people. Half of these jobs are required to go to Nevadans.

TMCC's Laure'l Santos teaches machining and says the equipment his students are using will prepare them for future Tesla jobs.

TMCC plans to coordinate with the Nevada System of Higher Education to develop more programs to prepare students for the new Tesla jobs. In the meantime, Santos says most of his students are already landing other manufacturing jobs.

“There’s that light at the end of the tunnel," he says, "so there’s a possibility they can get a job and a job that can sustain them in an industry that is growing in this area.”

Getting hired is exactly what student David Cortner is hoping for. After spending the last decade in prison, he’s trying to turn his life around by learning these new skills.

“I came out, and after being in there for so long, you really lose touch with society and what’s going on in technology today," Cortner explains. "So this is just a great start for me.”

Cortner hopes the job outlook for him is positive. Currently, the state has an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, one of the highest in the nation.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.
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