TCAT – Elizabethton offering new program Jan. 4

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016


TCAT– Elizabethton is launching a new program, Machine Tool Technology, on January 4, prompted by employer requests for trained workers. Starting salaries range from $22,600 to $34,200, depending upon level of competency, according to TCAT Director Dean Blevins.
Machine Tool Technology equipment was made possible by a $650,000 grant from the State of Tennessee presented by Gov. Bill Haslam to TCAT – Elizabethton in June of 2015.  Grant funds were used to add a welding training program at 1500 Arney Street in Elizabethton and to purchase equipment for the new Machine Tool program.
Scott LaForest of Marble, N.C., who has extensive industry and military experience in machine tool technology, is the instructor. Prior to joining TCAT, he was a toolmaker with Moog Components Group, Murphy, N.C., and served in various training roles with industries in North Carolina and the U.S. Army, where he once was a drill sergeant.
The Machine Tool program, which may be completed at TCAT – Elizabethton in 16 months (1,728 clock hours), will provide basic skills in machine tool operations and experience on a variety of machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, computer numerical control (CNC) machines, and the CAD-CAM, according to LaForest. The program integrates the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) national metalworking standards and credentialing assessments. Information on full NIMS credentialing may be found on the TCAT Elizabethton website,
LaForest took up the profession because he said he always liked to design and make things. “It seemed like the perfect fit for me.”  His professional career blossomed from day one. He related some of the milestones in his professional career.
“I started off after trade school working in a small job shop in North Carolina running manual machines. I then went to work in another job shop where I was trained to set up and operate CNC lathes, and run CNC mills.
“I then went to work for Federal Mogul in South Carolina, in the tool room. I started off as a master machinist, working on manual and CNC machines, making die parts, producing production tooling and gages, and servicing dies. I then moved to the Mold department where I ran precision OD/ID grinders and built molds.
I became the 2nd shift lead person over the tool room, where I worked with Engineering on process improvements, as well as running the entire shop. I was also responsible for heat treating, die repair, training apprentices, and R&D projects.
“I next moved to Western North Carolina working for Team Industries, where I worked with production machine operators on blueprint reading, gauging parts, and quality. I also did design work for process improvements, as well as fabricated necessary parts.
In 2008, I was Mobilized with the Army at Ft. McCoy, Wisc., where I was an instructor doing weapons training for units that were deploying overseas. When I returned in 2012, I went to work for MOOG as a Toolmaker A. I started off making tooling for production throughout the plant, moving on to specialize in building progressive stamping dies.”
What prompted him to accept employment at TCAT – Elizabethton?
“It was several aspects. The first was that I was extremely impressed with the quality and professionalism of people I encountered during the interview process. It was also a chance to build something from the ground up, to be the start of something I saw as having unlimited potential. A chance to use all the skills I’ve developed over the years, and to train the future, to give something back to a trade that’s allowed me to do and learn so much.  Also, it was an opportunity to be closer to family, which is extremely important to me.”
Machine Tool Technology becomes the 11th full-time training program offered on ground by TCAT Elizabethton which began operation in 1965 as the State Area Vocational Technical School. The Machine Tool training shop and classrooms are located in the Skills Building at the Main Campus, 426 Highway 91 North, across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in the Watauga Industrial Park.
Registration for new students previously admitted to TCAT – Elizabethton will be held Jan. 4 at the Main Campus. For additional information, telephone 423-543-0070, or visit

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox