SGTC Machining Instructor uses technology to teach

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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From Staff Reports


AMERICUS – South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) Precision Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown has been implementing creative ways to teach students online in what is traditionally a hands-on or face-to face instructional model. He has also been utilizing the college’s 3D printers to make masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally, I would be teaching and supervising students in our Precision Machining and Manufacturing lab,” said Brown. “But once the campus closed in March, we had to find new ways to help our students complete the semester and continue to learn.”

Brown came up with about six different online resources that he could use to help students keep learning. He utilized resources such as YouTube, Tooling U, CAD/CAM, Tip of the Day, Custom Content, and Video Conferencing.

Brown has kept in contact with his students, as well as with business and industry partners and advisory board members. He has made new contacts through this process of learning to teach remotely. He has also utilized two of the college’s Markforged 3D printers to PPE masks.

Brown found a resource for a viable file for a PPE mask from a dental connection. He designed a snap ring to cover the HEPA filer material for easy replacement and utilized the elastic band from a $1 LED headlamp to make the mask. The filter is an air-purified filter disassembled.

Brown’s wife, Dr. Jessica Brown of Americus Dental, used one of the first masks completed at her dental office, which was opened only for emergency cases due to the ADA, GDA, and CDC guidelines to postpone all elective procedures. Dr. Brown wore a surgical mask over the respirator mask for splash protection. The masks also needed to be sealed to the face so the Browns used a dental mixture material to make this happen.

“We have completed about seven of these masks, but they are not feasible to mass produce,” explained Chad Brown. “Our printers take about 34 hours to print two face masks at a time and another three and a half hours to print the snap ring. Luckily, the printers can run around the clock, but it is not cost effective or efficient to mass produce.” Brown went on to say that the masks are not intended for multiuse or to be multi-person products and that each one has to be custom finished for use and should be disposed of after each use.

Even though the masks are not feasible for mass production, they have served their purpose locally and also provided a great learning project for Brown to be able to share with his students online and through photos and videos.

“Many people may not realize that Precision Machining is what produces a huge number of both large and small objects that we use in daily life,” said Brown. “Believe it or not, every little piece of an object requires some level of a machinist’s skills from the production of automobiles to surgical devices, aircraft parts and more. Everything you see has been touched by a machinist.”

Dr. Jessica Brown, a dentist and the wife of SGTC Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown, is seen here wearing a mask that was created by her husband using the college’s 3D printers.
Photo by Su Ann Bird

Machinists work with a variety of materials, such as bronze, copper, glass, plastics, steel, aluminum and many other metals. They may use a combination of drill presses, grinders, lathes, milling machines, saws and high-speed computer numerical machining centers to get a job done. Classroom instruction, combined with hands-on operation and now online technology, helps give students the skill sets and machining experience needed to be successful in the industry.

The Precision and Manufacturing program is for anyone who has an imagination and loves to be creative and use their hands. If you can imagine it, we can create it.

SGTC is currently enrolling students for an eight-week minimester that begins on Wednesday, May 27. To learn more about the Precision Machining and Manufacturing program at SGTC, contact Chad Brown at or visit the SGTC website at

SGTC is currently waiving the online application fee and testing requirement for new students during the COVID19 pandemic. Financial aid is also available through the Federal PELL grant, HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.