Soon to be Machinist Jamie Smith Aims for Career in Space & Aeronautical Field 

Jamie Smith, OFTC Machine Tool Technology student.

After graduating from high school, Jamie Smith attended an aviation school in Georgia and learned to build planes before entering the military. After his service was complete, he decided to return to the trade he loved; only this time, he wanted to make the parts for the planes he built.  

With dreams of one day building his own helicopter, Smith purchased a 3D printing machine, a lathe, and a CNC milling machine. Only, he didn’t have the skills to operate the machinery.  

“I was familiar with Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) and knew they offered a machinist program, so I decided they could help me learn the skills I needed to operate these machines so I could build my helicopter,” Smith said.  

“I loved the idea that I could learn how to design and create functional parts for home or job use, so I enrolled in the Machine Tool Technology program and have loved it ever since,” he added.  

Hands-On Training  

Smith knew the hands-on training offered at OFTC would benefit his ability to grasp the concepts he needed to learn.  

Jamie Smith working on a CNC Lathe in OFTC's Machine Tool Technology lab.
Jamie Smith working on a CNC Lathe in OFTC’s Machine Tool Technology lab.

“It has been an absolute blast,” he said. “Machining or CNC machining is nothing but hands-on and a lot of math and planning. I’ve had opportunities to operate different manual lathes, mills, bandsaws, and CNC machines. I’ve learned to make a variety of different, useful tools and projects, from saltshakers to helicopter parts.”  

The hands-on practice he’s received has given Smith confidence he’ll be ready to transition seamlessly into his desired career as a machinist in the space and aeronautical field. “And on a personal level, I not only want to build my helicopter in my shop at home, but I want to use these skills to make hard-to-find parts for other people in the area.”  

Instructors Make the Difference 

Not only has Smith enjoyed the hands-on instruction in his classes, but the relationships he’s formed with his instructors and fellow students has been paramount to his enjoyable experience at OFTC.  

“I have enjoyed the complicated math and learning the different machines and skills, but what I have truly enjoyed the most about my time at OFTC has been the friendships of the instructors and students throughout the course,” Smith said.  

“The quality of instructors at OFTC is what I consider to be one of the best attributes of the college,” he added. “The people of Laurens and surrounding counties are privileged to have a technical college like OFTC in the area.”  

Smith is one semester away from completing his program of study and graduating with his associates degree in Precision Machining and Manufacturing.  

For more info on OFTC’s Machine Tool Technology program or the 130+ other programs of study available, visit the college’s website,