Sheridan College Machine Tool Technology Lab Receives New Technology


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Adding the CMM to the lab expands students’ skills and job opportunities

Sheridan College Machine Tool Technology students just received a Zeiss Duramax Coordinate Measuring Machine for their lab thanks to federal Carl D. Perkins grant funding.

This high-performance machine tool measures the physical geometrical characteristics of an object to a millionth of an inch. A probe attached to the machine takes precise data points, and then a computer interprets the data with specialized software to create a 3D map of the part.

CMMs are vital for precision engineering and quality control in the medical, automobile and aerospace industries that have extremely low tolerances for error. According to Sara Spann, machine tool instructor, this tool is an essential addition to the lab.

“Now that we have a CMM, students will be able to expand their skillsets, making them more versatile and therefore more attractive, to potential employers across many different industries, including high production manufacturing,” she explained.

When engineering parts for medical machines, aircraft, or cars, a nanometer error can mean the failure of a piece of equipment.

“The CMM is used to inspect parts to make sure they don’t contain any mistakes to prevent failures from happening in the first place,” said Randy Whyte, machine tool instructor. “But when failures do happen, it is also used in documentation processes so you are able to pinpoint at what stage in the production process something went wrong and hold that company accountable.”

This machine tool is also used to reverse engineer parts and in final inspections that test parts against their design intent before production.

Adding a CMM to the lab will expand students’ job opportunities to include CMM programmers, operators, or inspectors after graduation. According to, a CMM operator or programmer earns an average salary of $46,000 nationally and can earn up to almost $67,000 with experience.

“Our students have toured many shops that use CMMs, so it’s great that we’re now able to teach these skills in the lab so they’ll be experienced and confident with this technology when they start a job,” said Spann.

Student working on the CMM

Ben Conklin, second-year machine tool technology student, explains how the new Zeiss Duramax CMM works and demonstrates how the probe measures parts during class on Dec. 20.