Mastercam Education Summit Featured New Project-Based Learning Curriculum and Much More

Due to the Pandemic, we sadly had to cancel the 2020 Mastercam Education Summit that was set to take place in June. Instead of ignoring it completely, we want to look back at last year’s event for ongoing inspiration. Bringing together teachers from all around North America for training and fellowship is such a fun and rewarding part of the work our Education team performs. We look forward to the days we can meet again in person to share our passion for education and the opportunities available in technical education that lead to rewarding careers in manufacturing.

CNC Software, Inc. invited educators from all over North America to its headquarters in Tolland, Connecticut, for the annual Mastercam Education Summit at the end of June. Upon arriving, instructors were welcomed into a like-minded group of people passionate about creating the best possible next generation of Mastercam users.

The three-day Summit was designed to immerse instructors in new curriculum and software updates, provide marketing and networking opportunities, and offer the chance to ask questions to the engineers behind the software.

Dale Renfrow, from Smith College, said, “It’s easy to garner information online, but when you’re at the Summit, you’ve got all the professionals in the field there to answer questions that you can’t ask a YouTube video.”

The first day hosted a variety of seminars on marketing, student opportunities, and more. Instructors were then given the choice of hands-on training sessions for the second and third days: advanced training or Quick Part Series training, which focused on the new project-based learning curriculum.

Keith teaching acoustic amplifier in Mastercam

The advanced training section was filled with long-time Mastercam users who had specific questions for the Applications Engineers. Tom Minor, from Springfield Technical Community College, said, “I really liked picking the Applications Engineers’ brains and seeing how they would approach problems. A lot of times when you’re the instructor, you’re the point of knowledge in the room. It’s nice to be the guy who gets to ask the questions.”

The Quick Part Series training, run by Keith Butzgy, a Technical Content Developer and Trainer at Mastercam, guided instructors through one of the newly developed project-based learning tutorials in the series: the acoustic amplifier. Keith invited the “students” to follow along as he worked through the instructor PDF, mirroring how they would, in turn, teach their students. Just like in any classroom, some students worked ahead while others called on Keith for more help working through a section. Keith noted that the questions that were brought up in this session were likely to be brought up in the instructors’ own classrooms, too.

As the group programmed the acoustic amplifier, topics included good conversations to have with their students as well as helpful tips. “Sometimes my students are too far zoomed out to see what they’re doing, so I always check for that,” shared one instructor, after another recommended students use the “Save As” function frequently. Keith also drew their attention to tactics like changing line thicknesses for viewing ease and naming each solid body to keep everything organized.

Keith teaching in Router Shop

The instructors came away from the session confident about incorporating the Quick Part Series in their programs. Not only are these project-based learning tutorials designed to teach the fundamentals of CNC machining in a clear, stress-free way, the included Quick Part interface for Mastercam offers a streamlined array of functions, so that students are not overwhelmed.

Dave Heath, from Skyline High School, said, “I really enjoy the Quick Part Series. Mastercam’s a complicated software with a big learning curve, and it can be intimidating for students – even for myself – getting into it and to know, ‘Where do I start?’ The Quick Part Series can get us into projects a lot quicker.”

Regardless of which training section instructors were in, they left equipped with new tools and ideas to bring back to their classrooms. Essex County College’s, Robert Leone, shared that this kind of event is invaluable to educators like himself. “Right now, as we see manufacturing coming back into the United States, this is going to become more and more important,” he said. “Schools are starting to recognize this.” He went on to say that his administration was thrilled to send him and a few of his colleagues to the Summit, as they understand that training the best students requires the best trained teachers.

The industry demand for new employees continues to climb, and CNC Software, Inc., is dedicated to supporting the exceptional instructors that teach this new generation of programmers and machinists. Plans for the 2021 Education Summit will be underway shortly, and Mastercam’s Education team anticipates even more educators will attend in 2021!