To help the region’s manufacturing sector meet its workforce needs, Missouri Western State University has added two new options to its two-year Associate of Applied Science in Manufacturing Engineering Technology program. Students can enroll in the precision machining and the instrumentation and automation programs beginning this fall.

“These programs meet an identified need for mid-level technicians in the region’s growing advanced manufacturing economy,” said Dr. Jinwen Zhu, professor and chair of engineering technology. “These technicians would be equipped with knowledge and skills beyond the competencies mastered at the vocational-technical level. Working with regional employers, Missouri Western has designed curriculum plans that would prepare graduates for these positions.”

Both options will provide practical applied learning for mechanically inclined students interested in working in our growing manufacturing sector. The precision machining option will put students in machine tool and computer numeric control (CNC) labs to prepare for positions with industries engaged in machine and tool design, manufacturing machine operation, CNC operation, and basic troubleshooting and maintenance.

The instrumentation and automation option will provide training in electricity, electronics and computer applications in industry. Career opportunities with this option include positions with industries engaged in industrial automation, automated production line operation, plant electricity and computer-integrated manufacturing operation and maintenance.

Members of the business community welcome the new options.

“The two degrees being offered by Missouri Western are a great step forward in providing educational opportunities for students seeking careers in manufacturing and production,” said Patt Lilly, President/CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. “Local employers have indicated they have positions that go unfilled as a result of lack of skills based training and education on the part of applicants. The courses represented by the two degrees will provide the opportunity for those completing the course work an opportunity for a good job and career here in St. Joseph.”

“Manufacturing is always evolving, along with the skills and knowledge our employees are required to have,” said Stet Schanze, president of Gray Manufacturing and a member of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Council. “The growing shortage of skilled labor is definitely a concern for our company and for other manufacturers in St. Joseph and around the country. We appreciate that Missouri Western has talked to and worked with industry in developing these new options as part of an overall community strategy to better prepare graduates for the evolving manufacturing workforce.”

With faculty and administration of Hillyard Technical Center, the career technical center operated by the St. Joseph School District, Missouri Western has designed an articulation plan that will award course credit for Hillyard graduates who enter the Missouri Western MET programs. Hillyard graduates would be able to complete one of the new programs in less than two years of full-time study.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have gotten from the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, employers and from Hillyard Technical Center in all of our programs, especially engineering technology,” said Dr. Kathleen O’Connor, dean of professional studies. “We believe these new options will provide opportunities for students who might not otherwise consider college.”

In addition to the two-year degree program, employers may also choose to send employees to one or more specific courses for targeted skill development. Missouri Western can customize programs to meet employers’ specific training needs.

For more information about the new options, please contact Dr. Zhu at 816-271-5822 or

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit