ELKO – Great Basin College career and technical education instructor Thomas Bruns has been working for Great Basin College since 2008. Before that he worked as a millwright, mostly in the mining industry.
His expertise is now being used to edit the industry standard textbook for all millwright students put out by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
According to Bruns, he was nominated for the job by Jackie Bargstedt, of The Industrial Company.
“I have been accepted to be a subject matter expert to rewrite the national curriculum for millwright,” Bruns said. “We’re meeting by Zoom once or twice a month. What we first did is we went through and put comments on what we want to see changed in the curriculum. Then they have a team of writers that take all the comments and update and edit. We review that.”
“It’s a very proud accomplishment,” Bruns said. “We’ve been at it for almost a year. We are probably through about two-thirds of the modules.”
According to Bruns, there are about 10 to 15 experts working on the book.
At GBC, Bruns mostly trains millwrights from the ground up. He said the program is open to high school graduates or those who have passed the General Education Development test.
“An industrial millwright works on stationery equipment [such as] for the processing areas in mining,” said Bruns. “This is the crushers, mills, the compressors the conveyers.”
But, millwright workers are not just limited to the mining operations. These skills are needed in a variety of industries.
“They use millwrights to repair things in manufacturing,” Bruns said. “I had one student who got offered a job at the Tesla factory. We have students that don’t want to go into mining.”
Bruns said refineries, manufacturing operations, power plants, paper mills, shipyards and other industries need millwrights, or mechanics.
“It’s a very diverse field,” Bruns said. “That is one of the things that attracted me to the field because when I first went into it, because one day you are working on a pump and the next day you are building a piping system to run air from one part of the plant to the next. The next day you are welding and fabricating something.”
“When I go out recruiting to the high schools I show them the opportunities that exist,” Bruns said. “Millwrights typically make $20 to $30 per hour.”
That does not include overtime pay, he pointed out.
The program at GBC is equivalent to an associate’s degree, but the class time is completed in one year.
Bruns said the average cost for an enrolled student is about $8,800, including tuition, lab fees, books and tools. After graduation, GBC helps students find employment
According to the GBC website on the millwright program, students receive training in mechanical operations, fluid power, machine tool operation, preventive and predictive maintenance, electrical theory, welding processes, and industrial heating and cooling.
With graduation from the program a student in the Industrial Millwright Technology Program will be able to diagnose and repair mechanical, electrical, fluid and air handling systems found in most industrial, agricultural, mining, construction and service industries.
The millwright program will be “firing up” again in late August about the same time most students start back to college. There is limited enrollment in the program due to the shop size and instructor to student ratio. Early enrollment is encouraged.
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