I live about 100 miles from these sculptures so I have seen them in person.
The gent that builds them does a great job on them. there is more than
shown. If you ever get close Vining, MN it is worth the stop to see them.
Thanks for the kind words. Most all of the things you see on
Stirlingsouth (www.stirlingsouth.com) and the Little Engine Pages
(http://www.geocities.com/~rrice2 /) were made at the DeKalb Technical
College Machine Tool Technology program in Clarkston, Georgia.
Unfortunately, the Machine Tool program is closing. WE NEED YOUR
America is losing its ability to manufacture. The following link will
take you to a 2005 report by Deloitte and the National Association of
Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute.
Among the more frightening quotes from this study are "The vast
majority of American Manufacturers are experiencing a serious shortage
of qualified employees, which in turn is causing significant impact to
business and the ability of the country as a whole to compete in a
And this one: "Also worrisome is the finding that 90 percent of
respondents indicated a moderate to severe shortage of qualified
skilled production employees, including front-line workers, such as
machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, and technicians."
And this link to a CNN report listing the five occupations with
the most severe shortages:
Nurses are listed as number one and machinists are number two.
Please read the reports I've listed and give them serious
What can you do?
If you think that it is a bad idea to close one of the remaining
few Machine Tool Technology programs left in the country, please send
an intellegent, well worded e-mail to Ronald W. Jackson, the Georgia
Department of Technical and Adult Education Interim Commissioner
=======================If only from a national defense viewpoint it is indeed foolish to
close a good metal working school, especially if it is the last
one in the area.
You are to be commended for your concern, but this is almost
certainly a "done deal." Even if you manage to postpone the
program termination, rather than an abrupt one-time termination,
the program will die the "death of a thousand cuts."
I suggest that a "shortage" does not exist just because some
report [or even many reports] says it does. In the "free market"
the only time a short exists is when the prices go up. Several
surveys on this newsgroup and industry data indicates a falling
rather than a rising wage rate, and thus a surplus rather than a
shortage of qualified machinists.
To avoid shoveling "stuff" against the tide I suggest you examine
this from the school administration's viewpoint.
1. Machining programs are not high prestige academically, even if
they produce award/prize-winning machinists/technicians.
2. The per student hour cost is very high if you have/keep
current equipment in comparison to other [academic] subjects
which can get by with a whiteboard and some markers. The
consumable supplies [tools and material] are also very costly.
3. Fabrication programs tend to be "messy" with all sorts of
"stuff" stacked in the corners; they generate chips/swarf and
make noise. Academic programs by contrast are neat, clean and
tidy, and quiet.
4. There is a significant risk of injury and thus litigation and
financial risk to the school with any sort of a "hands-on"
fabrication program. About the worst that can happen in the
conventional academic lecture based classes is a paper cut.
5. The school can show a short-term budget improvement by closing
the machining programs and selling the equipment. This also
frees up space for additional academic programs.
6. Qualified machining instructors seldom integrate well with the
other instructional staff, and tend to ask highly awkward
questions at faculty meetings, in addition to not liking Brie and
I have been down this particular "trail of tears" twice, and in
both cases the machining programs were closed, the machinery sold
off, and the schools became academic feeders for the area
There was no great outcry from the major local manufacturing
firms at the time of the program termination as these were in the
main closing down and had no need for additional qualified
personnel. However the resulting "shortage" was extensively used
later as an excuse and rationale by corporate management.
I note in passing that the large area corporations that
complained the loudest about the resulting "shortage" after
program termination were among the most avid seekers of tax
abatements, contributed nothing in the way of equipment, tooling
or materials, and their representatives would only sporadically
serve on the program advisory committees. The smaller owner
operated shops were the best in this regard, contributing
significant time, money, materials, and students to the program.
Unka' George [George McDuffee]
Watch out w'en you'er gittin all you want.
Fattenin' hogs ain't in luck.
Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), U.S. journalist.
Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings,
"Plantation Proverbs" (1880).
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