Roxana Castellón found what she was looking for at De Anza.

Castellón is a student in the Design and Manufacturing Technologies Department, working toward a certificate of achievement as a CNC Research and Development Machinist. It’s a field in which highly skilled workers use computerized lathes, mills and other equipment to make precision components for prototypes and finished products.

Like many DMT students, Castellón is already working in her field, and she wanted to gain more skills. Her previous college experience was a bit different.

Roxana CastellonCastellón earned a bachelor’s degree in plant biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and held what she calls “random jobs for a couple of years” before joining a Santa Clara machine shop as an office administrator. From there, she moved into working as an estimator and then to a similar job at Sanmina, a leading Silicon Valley electronics manufacturer. She likes the field, and wants to get ahead.

“After working in the industry for a couple of years, I realized that I still needed that experience of working on a manufacturing shop floor, which I didn’t have,” she said. “I never ran machines before. It was very difficult to do my job well without having that background knowledge.”

Castellón said she was researching schools on the internet when she found De Anza. “They offer programs in things like SolidWorks and Mastercam, which are heavily used in the industry,” she said. Both are software programs for computer-aided design and manufacturing.

“I figured I’d put myself in a place that could give me the tools I need in order to be successful in my career,” she added. 

Castellon and CNC millOver the last two years, Castellón has been working full-time during the day while taking evening classes at De Anza’s DMT Department. It’s not easy to balance a job and school, but she has enjoyed getting to know her instructors and fellow students.

“There’s a lot of people who take classes here that work in various areas of manufacturing, so it’s a really great place to network,” she said. “You meet people who are at companies that you might want to work for some day. Or you hear about careers that they have, that you didn’t know existed before. It’s like, ‘Oh, you do that? That’s so cool! Maybe that’s something I want to do.’ ”

De Anza’s DMT Department offers seven different certificates and three associate degrees. Students learn on the latest machinery in classrooms and labs that were recently expanded with a $1 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation. A dedication event will be held on campus May 18 for the renovated Gene Haas Center for Design and Manufacturing.

Castellón said she chose her program at De Anza because “I’m really interested in new technologies and the development of new processes, so R&D seems like an appropriate program to go into.”

She would “highly recommend” the DMT Department “to anyone who’s looking to get into manufacturing,” Castellón added.

“I would tell them, ‘Come to De Anza. It’s a great place!’ ”

New! Watch a video about the Haas Foundation gift:

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