Celebrating 30 Years!

Established as the National Institute of Flexible Manufacturing
(NIFM) in 1987 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the institute was the
brainchild of Harold Corner – co-founder of C&J Industries – and
other local industry leaders who, simply put, wanted to upgrade their
employees’ skills. Then in the 1980’s and 90’s the manufacturing field
saw a shift from manual machining and non-computerized processes to
computer-based manufacturing, but many companies lacked the
resources or capital to train their employees with the new technical skills
or to take a risk in investing in the new technology. NIFM sought
solutions to overcome these obstacles: it’s two-fold goal was to train
incumbent workers in the new technical skills and offer “shared use”
machinery for companies to produce saleable parts while evaluating the
feasibility to adopt the advanced technologies. An ad in the Meadville
Tribune in 1990 summarized it this way: “We’re giving Meadville the
leading edge for tomorrow through advanced technology today!”.

Starting with a one machine set up at C&J Industries, then moving into
the old Meadville Racquet Club on French St, NIFM ran various courses
and training sessions for management, statistical process control, CNC
machining, math, and programming in its first few years. In 1998, NIFM
changed its name to Precision Manufacturing Institute (PMI) and
moved into a more spacious location at the Crawford Business Park. In
1999, students completed the inaugural “First STEP” program which
taught entry-level industry basics, and an apprenticeship program was
established.

While PMI continued to be guided by industry needs and train
incumbent workers, it was in this year that the training facility added a
focus on attracting new workers to the manufacturing field and training
them. Local industry and individuals expressed concern over a current
and growing skills gap; much of the experienced and knowledgeable
workforce would be entering retirement in the coming years. PMI
sought to develop quality programs to train new workers not only to fill
this gap, but to provide well-trained individuals to sustain the
manufacturing workforce for the future and provide a non-traditional
career-education path for those seeking a quality, family-sustaining
career.

In 2001, PMI was granted a license from the Pennsylvania Department
of Education to operate as a state-licensed private post-secondary
school. In 2004, PMI applied for and was granted accreditation with the
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, an accrediting
body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The school was
then able to offer diploma programs for which students could apply for
financial aid through Federal Student Aid programs.

Back in 2002, discussion had begun over renovating and moving into
the train repair shops on Bessemer Street. The red-brick buildings, built
by the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in 1865, were converted to
business space and PMI’s classrooms, labs, offices, and meeting rooms.
PMI officially opened at Bessemer Commerce Park in May of 2006. At
that time, the school offered diploma programs in the CNC Machining,
Electro-Mechanical Technology, and Welding fields. It continues to
offer these programs and customized training for industry to meet its
mission: “to promote the growth of people, business, and industry
through quality education and training”. PMI will formally celebrate its
30th anniversary this fall with an anniversary ribbon cutting and
celebration event. Look for an invitation soon!

PMI would like to recognize and express its thanks for the dedication of
the many individuals and companies who dedicated their time, energy,
resources, financial contributions, and donations to develop, support, and
manage the institute over the years. We continue to strive towards our
mission “to promote the growth of people, business, and industry through
quality education and training” and greatly appreciate the collaboration
with our local industry, schools, and individuals to achieve this goal.
While we the list is not nearly comprehensive, we thank: current and past
board members and staff, Advisory Committees, industry patrons, the
NTMA, local schools, Edinboro University, Clarion University, Rosedale
Technical College.