While showing off the newest piece of equipment in the Carroll County Technology Center's machine shop yesterday, the demonstrators were also showing visitors a bit of the future.
School administrators, local business owners and government officials toured the school's shop to see the InControl system, a computer-based program which automatically operates a drill to cut out machine parts.
The unit, the first in any school system nationwide, can be fitted on any Bridgeport or similar drill, said James E. Trounson, president of MicroMotion, the Millersville-based company which produces InControl.
"We are convinced that any shop without this technology in the next two years will be out of business," he said, adding that most machine shops have a Bridgeport drill. "It's like an office -- you never see one without computer word processing anymore. "Manufacturing will be at that level."
The technology increases a shop's productivity from 2 percent to 10 percent, he said.
Carroll's school system bought the equipment for $11,990 of its federal Carl D. Perkins grant, which gives money to schools for technology programs, said David Miller, county supervisor of vocational and technology education.
"They gave it to us at a financial discount, have provided a lot of assistance in learning it and set it up," he said.
All students will have a chance to use the computerized drill before they graduate from the machine shop program, said Mr. Miller.
A complete InControl system -- including the hardware to control the drill, brackets, computer and software -- costs $13,990, said Mr. Trounson.
A fully computerized drill or lathe usually costs from $50,000 to $60,000, and the software allowing it to write a program with the computer mouse costs an additional $5,000 to $10,000, he said.
Other computerized lathes require operators to program the computer with the keyboard and use complex trigonometric formulas to guide the drill and mathematically describe the part, said Mr. Trounson.
"Now the kids will be graduating with skills that are useful to the industry," he said.