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Calhoun reaches Project MFG national championship for fourth straight year

DECATUR — Let’s get straight to the point.

The Calhoun Community College manufacturing team has pulled off a “four-peat.”

The Warhawks three-member squad secured a spot as one of the final four teams to compete at the 2024 Project MFG National Competition, the college announced.

It is their fourth consecutive year advancing to nationals.

“Competing among some of the top talent across the nation and advancing to a national championship four years in a row doesn’t just happen by luck,” said Calhoun President Dr. Jimmy Hodges. “That sort of thing only happens when hard work is put in place to learn and understand the skill of welding and machining, the patience to keep trying when you don’t get it right the first time, and determination to continue to compete as these are lengthy qualifying processes.

“Those are all of the vital things needed to compete at a national level, and that’s what our students and instructors demonstrate each year they advance. And for that, their Calhoun family is extremely proud.”

According to Tad Montgomery, Calhoun’s Machine Tool Technology instructor and Project MFG team sponsor/CNC Machining SME, all teams in the competition receive challenges where they create a product to required specifications as the competition is designed to reflect the real-world of advanced manufacturing. The teams go through the production of a final product and ensure it’s completed under the time given and to specifications provided.

Last October, 82 teams from across the nation participated in the competition series in hopes of advancing to the regional round. Each team received a drawing and part stock to fabricate a project at their school. Projects were submitted and judged this past January, and those top qualifiers competed over a span of two-days at several regional sites this past February.

Emerging as the top four teams from that competition was Calhoun Community College, Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City, Everett (Wash.) Community College and Autry Technology Center in Oklahoma. These four teams were invited to Charlotte, N.C., for an intense four-day competition where they faced off live on the hit YouTube reality series, Clash of Trades. At stake is $150,000 in total prizes as well as to be named the 2024 Project MFG National Champions.

“We are immensely proud that our team has once again reached the Project MFG National Championship,” Montgomery said. “Our students undergo rigorous advanced manufacturing training using the latest industry equipment, which thoroughly prepares them for competitions like this.

“They have been diligently studying and practicing, with the national championship title as their ultimate goal.”

The winners will be announced via Project MFG’s YouTube channel and social media platforms in July.

The team consisted of two CNC machinists/programmers and a welder. The team members are Ty Whitson (CNC Machinist/CNC Programmer), Austin Kidd (CNC Machinist/CNC Programmer), and Ben Blanton (Welder). The team trainers and sponsors include: Tad Montgomery, Team Sponsor/CNC Machining SME; George Cassimus, CNC Machining SME and Matt Jones, Welding SME.

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