Hunter Grandorff got his start at SPSCC in the Running Start program in 2014 after being a homeschooled student. He knew he wanted to build and create with his hands—something in the trades—but he was worried he might not be well received by his classmates as an 18 year old. His experience was just the opposite.
“Being a lot younger going into the trades, I wasn’t looked down on because of my lack of life experience,” Hunter recalled. He described how his classmates held him higher and encouraged him every step of the way. “It was a tight-knit group, and being a part of it really boosted my confidence.”
Between 2014 and 2018, Hunter earned degrees in two Professional Technical programs at SPSCC. After the first two years in the Welding program, he decided to enroll in the Advanced Manufacturing program at the encouragement of one of his instructors.
“Hunter was a model student and very enthusiastic about learning," said Chad Bacon, Advanced Manufacturing instructor. “He inspired others to work hard and he really utilized the program to achieve the success he has today.”
Hunter was hired within a week of graduating and has been with his current employer, American Benchmark Machine Works, for two years. His role as a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Machinist involves setup and operation work with heavy machinery and producing parts for surgical instruments.
Hunter uses CAD and CAM software for programming, utilizes design models from engineers, helps design the toolpath the machine uses, and sets up and operates the machinery. And although he wears many hats in his role, the program at SPSCC prepared him for it all.
"Students start with the fundamentals of manual machining, then design and CNC programming, and then how to set up and operate the machines," said Bacon.
The Advanced Manufacturing program covers these fundamentals because so many industries rely on machinists to produce parts. "Aerospace machining, medical machining, then there's automotive, marine, trains, guns, mining, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of work for machining because basically everything needs to be built," Bacon said of the job opportunities.
Hunter sees entering the trades as a path to a good-paying job. He also knows it can also help him pay for an advanced degree later down the road.