Over the years, I always had a few “machinists enthusiast” (retired machinists, hobbyists—doctors, attorneys, etc.) in my evening classes, and they were welcomed and provided with my assistance as much as each one of them needed, kind of in a laid back fashion. Since those “students’ signed up for no-credit, they were not required to attend the lectures, take tests, or work with the designated set of lab projects as the other students did for credit (2+4 lecture/lab hrs).

Needless to say, both groups got what they were there for. “Enthusiasts” were provided with opportunities to do their thing in a lab/shop environment that was safe and fully equipped while the other students were provided with more structured learning opportunity with “on-the-job” training principles to prepare them for gainful employment in industry. With this program structure, an instructor can serve both groups’ needs without compromising instructional integrity as is often found with a “laid back” instructors’ attitude across the board.

The assertive and highly motivated students will always find a way to learn more even in a laid back teaching environment irrespective of the degree of the instructor’s personal involvement with their learning, but for not so assertive and not so motivated students the end result usually ends up in class drops, and eventually bailing out of the program all together (at least that has been my observation and experience over some long years in dealing with students at both the comm. coll. as well as univ. Mfg/ME programs).

Whether you are just starting to learn "the tricks of the trade" so to speak, a retired professional, or even a machinist with many years of experience, find some time to visit your machine shop program (if you're lucky enough to have it around these days). I can assure you, that 'll be most welcome and your time appreciated. Better yet, see what it would take to enroll in a non-credit class (day or evening) and have some fun machining some "nuts & bolts" and everything else in between.