Southwest achieves medical device finishing first

Southwest is offering a new medical device finishing course with embedded national credentials and an accelerated Technical Certificate in Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Operations at the Macon Cove Campus.  The new program, launched in August 2018, is the first in the region to offer national credentials.  Developed through a $662,000 Department of Labor America’s Promise MOVE-HIRE grant, the program targets underrepresented individuals with tuition-free skills training

Dean of Business and Technologies Robin Cole says companies like Medtronic, Smith & Nephew and MicroPort represent a burgeoning industry in Memphis whose employment rate has grown by 50 percent since 1999.  “Our purpose at Southwest is to provide programs that empower our students to succeed in a great career and produce graduates local employers want and need to hire,” he said. 

The Greater Memphis Medical Device Council ranks Shelby County as having the second largest concentration of orthopedic and spinal medical device manufacturing companies in the USA, and 47 out of 50 of those companies reside in Memphis. To keep pace with this job growth, medical device companies are in need of highly skilled workers, and they are looking for a workforce that is nationally credentialed says Anita Brackin, Director of Workforce, Economic Development and Continuing Education. 

“This new program is a prime example of how we stand in filling the gap in workforce development and drive economic growth by removing barriers to skills development and providing our students opportunities to attain credentials employers value,” Brackin said.

The Medical Device Finishing course is a 13-week four-credit offering that allows students to complete training in Metal Finishing in one semester and go straight to work, go beyond finishing courses to become a CNC Operator, or use their credits to transfer into an associate’s degree program.  The CNC Technical Operator certificate will provide students the ability to complete a National Institute for Machining Standards (NIMS) certification in Measurement, Material and Safety, Job Planning, Benchwork and Layout, CNC Milling and CNC Turning, presenting students with job opportunities as a metal finisher, CNC operator, CNC machinist and quality inspector.

Assistant Professor of Machining, Additive Manufacturing, Metrology and Quality Gary Giordano is spearheading the program and encourages individuals interested in advanced manufacturing to apply. “Students who graduate from standardized training programs offer employers industry-recognized credentials that validate their knowledge and skills and set them apart,” said Giordano, an industry expert with a regional reputation for producing highly-skilled craftsmen.

Additional courses are being developed to include credentials from the American Society of Quality (ASQ) and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). Prospective students may apply online at or call (901) 333-5000 for more information.