A Brief History of the Machine Drafting at DMACC - By Bob Anderson - August 2012

In March of 1967, I was hired from Delavan Manufacturing to teach drafting at the newly created Community College in central Iowa (Area XI). Our facility was in an empty grocery store on Vine St. in West Des Moines. President Paul Lowery had experience with a successful Electrical Drafting Program ​in Georgia, which is the basis for what we started with in May of that same year. This was a one year (Four Quarter) program that awarded a diploma.

One of the more valuable assets of Trade and Industrial programs are the advisory committee members. These are people working in the field who are selected for their expertise. After a year or two, the committee strongly suggested the emphasis in drafting be changed from Electrical Drafting to Mechanical Drafting. A survey was conducted after it was suggested Architectural Drafting be added. Roy Berger was hired as the first Program Chairman of Architectural Drafting. Over the next several years, Mechanical Drafting evolved into Machine Drafting.

Over the next three or four years the Program moved to a leased closed skating rink, and then back to the grocery store. During these early years, the campus was being developed at the current Ankeny campus site. The drafting programs moved to the new campus in the mid-70's and eventually settled in Building 4.

Periodically, over the years, the question would be raised concerning expanding the Machine Drafting Program to two years in length. The advisory committee and I would discuss what should be included in the second year. There was never consensus on what that should be. Central Iowa does not have a concentration of heavy industry, rather many small, medium-sized companies. Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel, John Deere, Maytag, Delavan, Amana, Economy Forms and Rockwell Collins were examples of some of the larger companies our graduates went to work for. The curriculum emphasis was on versatility. Some of our graduates went to Marshalltown Community College for their second year.

During the 80's the college switched to the semester system. Our program went from four quarters to three semesters. I was constantly "tinkering" with the class material, trying to refine it and keep it up to date. I felt one of the strengths of the program were the quality instructors. Frank Trumpy, Dennis Hansen, Jim Dye, Clair Fisher and Jon Robinson, to name a few, were excellent instructors. I always felt the counselors we had were very capable facilitators. Our student population was quite diverse and the counselors were very helpful.

For probably the last 15 years I was with the college, we were quite active in the state and national VICA program. The drafting contest was set up and run by our Advisory Committee. We won our share of awards.

Sometime in the late 70's, the Architectural and Machine Drafting Programs started taking an extensive field trip (usually four or five days) just before graduation to larger cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, Twin Cities, St. Louis and Milwaukee. The students handled the travel arrangements and the instructors took care of the plant tours. The machine drafting students would visit manufacturing plants and the architectural drafting students visited sites that would interest them. During the school year, we would frequently visit various manufacturing plants in Central Iowa. Quite often, we had our graduates conduct the plant tours. I felt that our current students really paid close attention to their peers.

In the early to mid-80's computer-assisted drafting was on the horizon. Our Advisory Committee was always concerned with the potential impact this would have on the field. At this point in time, the main-frame computer was the heart of the system and only a few of the larger companies could utilize this equipment. How would the interaction with the individual draftsperson be accomplished? Milwaukee Area Tech had a series of seminars over several years which a number of us were able to attend. When the personal computer (PC) was developed, this helped a great deal. Software development was a welcome addition. Many meetings with the Advisory Committee concerning which PC system and which software proved beneficial. Just being able to operate a computer did not make an individual a draftsperson. By the time I retired in 1990, the last semester was mostly utilizing a CAD program on the computer.

Reflecting on 23 years, I am very proud of what we accomplished. My biggest regret or disappointment were the first six months in the 60's trying to condense curriculum development and make equipment purchases into two months time was very frustrating to say the least. I am so very proud of our graduates and what they've accomplished.

Bob Anderson, Program Chair 1967- 1990