First Haas Technical Education Centre for Tatra Tiger
Zaventem, June 1st 2012: Slovakia is well known for attracting more than its share of foreign investment, including major factories of several automotive manufactures. So, the recent grand opening on May 16th of the country’s first HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) was perhaps an inevitable event, given the local demand for skilled CNC operators.
The new teaching facility, equipped with a Haas SL-10 and a Haas Mini Mill, is located at the Stredná odborná škola polytechnická (SOSP – translated as the Polytechnic High School), in Nitra. It’s the 63rd HTEC in Europe.
Mrs Olga Hodálová is headteacher of the SOSP. After the grand opening event, she spoke with HTEC coordinator Bert Maes at Haas Europe about the decision to invest in Haas and the benefits she anticipates, for students, local companies and the country.
“Connecting schools with companies is time-proven to be one of the most effective ways to prepare graduates for their future work and careers,” she said. “Our unique cooperation with Haas and the local Haas factory Outlet (HFO) Teximp will have major benefits for students and for local employers in the engineering sectors.
“In fact, I think that the opening of the center will be of great benefit to the entire engineering sector in Slovakia. This HTEC will also act as a re-training center for existing employees of companies. There are a lot of engineering firms who work with CNC technologies and they often struggle to find skilled and qualified workers. This HTEC will help re-skill the people they need to grow their businesses and compete globally.”
Echoing Mrs Hodálová’s comments, Ing. Milan Michálek, deputy for technical education at SOSP also enthused about how the new HTEC will affect the morale and motivation of students and staff, alike.
“Before we built this new facility, our students were learning in outdated conditions and a dull environment. We realised that joining the Haas HTEC network would be an opportunity to change things. It has boosted the image of our school and it’s allowing our teachers and students to work and connect on an international level, which has a very positive impact on their sense of professionalism. We can proudly say that we cooperate with the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world.”
Ing. Michálek also praised the staff of local HFO, Teximp: “We probably would not have reached the required high standards without the help of the local Haas distributor,” he said. “They helped us to implement training for teachers, they gave us technical and professional support and they provided guidance and encouragement from start to finish.”
The IMF describes Slovakia as ‘an advanced economy with a high-income’, so it punches well above the weight provided by a modest 5million population. Referred to by economists as the Tatra Tiger (a reference to its mountain range), it’s a member of the EU, the OECD, NATO and the WTO, which, says Bert Maes from Haas Europe, “isn’t bad at all for a nation whose economy only 20-years ago was centrally planned by a communist government.
“We’re always happy to partner with dynamic, forward-thinking institutions,” he adds. “I don’t think any other CNC machine tool company takes these sorts of initiatives or invests in the CNC operators of the future quite like Haas does. We feel confident that the teachers and students at SOSP will take full advantage of the opportunities available to them.”