They’re de­vel­op­ing use­ful skills in three di­men­sions

For­rest cen­ter stu­dents learn in CADD pro­gram

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­[email protected]­news.com

Stu­dents en­rolled with the pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing and CADD pro­grams of­fered at the Dr. James A. For­rest Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter are gain­ing skills des­per­ately needed by in­dus­tries like man­u­fac­tur­ing or de­sign and con­struc­tion, St. Mary’s pub­lic school staff said last week.

Stu­dents who grad­u­ate from ei­ther pro­gram are guar­an­teed ar­tic­u­lated col­lege cred­its with the co­or­di­nat­ing pro­grams at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. The For­rest cen­ter is sched­uled to host its an­nual expo event in Jan­uary, and prospec­tive stu­dents can meet peers and teach­ers from about two dozen pro­grams at the event.

Ann John­son, vo­ca­tional sup­port and teacher-in-charge, said she has con­trac­tors call­ing her of­fice every week ask­ing about how to bet­ter con­nect with stu­dents and hire them. She said skilled ma­chin­ists

are needed across the coun­try, but “par­tic­u­larly in this county” with the pres­ence of the Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River.

She said she and other For­rest cen­ter ed­u­ca­tors are craft­ing a pro­gram that would al­low stu­dents to in­tern or ap­pren­tice their se­nior year at a lo­cal de­fense con­trac­tor of­fice or busi­nesses seek­ing those with com­puter-aided de­sign and draft­ing, or CADD, skills. It would be a “win-win” for the school and area man­u­fac­tur­ers, John­son said, adding that stu­dents would have the chance to work with pro­fes­sion­als, build on the foun­da­tions learned at the For­rest cen­ter and po­ten­tially have their col­lege ed­u­ca­tion paid for if they gain em­ploy­ment at those of­fices.

Drew Evans, pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing teacher, said dur­ing an in­ter­view last week that stu­dents have “less back­ground” about iden­ti­fy­ing tools and how to use them when they join the two-year pro­gram. He said “it takes a lit­tle longer to train them” to use the equip­ment safely.

The teacher said “safety is first and fore­most” dur­ing class time, and stu­dents build the es­sen­tial ex­pe­ri­ence needed to po­ten­tially work in man­u­fac­tur­ing. He said stu­dents work through mod­u­lar in­struc­tion to learn more about the dif­fer­ent tools, how to bill out a project and how to prop­erly as­sess the costs.

Leonard­town High School se­nior Wy­att Web­ster said he plans to go to col­lege for en­gi­neer­ing af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing pro­gram in May. He said pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing “is not like a nor­mal gen­eral [ed­u­ca­tion] class.” He said many of the lo­cal con­trac­tors “had the same ma­chines” of­fered at the school.

Stu­dents in the two pro­grams and oth­ers re­cently had the chance in Oc­to­ber to tour the of­fices of de­fense con­trac­tors J.F. Tay­lor, Engility and Plat­form Aero­nau­tics.

Web­ster said work­ing through the solid works cer­ti­fi­ca­tion tu­to­ri­als “was frus­trat­ing,” but he learned more about how to prop­erly mea­sure us­ing tools.

A select num­ber of pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents an­nu­ally col­lab­o­rate with NASA to pro­duce parts that are shipped to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, Evans said. High schools across the coun­try con­trib­ute to the plan, called High Schools United with NASA to Cre­ate Hard­ware, or HUNCH.

The stu­dents “are tech­ni­cally con­tracted to NASA” while they work on the project, Evans said. Af­ter cre­at­ing the parts us­ing CADD soft­ware, stu­dents use a com­puter nu­mer­i­cal con­trol, or CNC, ma­chine “to mill out the parts,” he said.

The new­est CNC ma­chine stu­dents can use for projects was in­stalled at the school about three weeks ago, ac­cord­ing to the teacher. Stu­dents can make a va­ri­ety of wood and metal ob­jects, like a chess set, a dart­board cab­i­net or other items.

Stu­dents who are in­ter­ested in ei­ther pro­gram should have good spa­tial rea­son­ing skills, or the abil­ity to vi­su­al­ize ob­jects, as well as strong math and com­puter skills. CADD stu­dents can also work to­ward a va­ri­ety of in­dus­try cer­ti­fi­ca­tions while in school.

Ger­ald Buck­ler, CADD in­struc­tor, said last week his stu­dents were us­ing CADD soft­ware to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of projects like a pros­thetic arm, houses and other projects. Stu­dents will use a 3D printer to ren­der their projects into mod­els, and they can also up­load im­ages of ob­jects or peo­ple us­ing a re­cently ac­quired 3D scan­ner.

Most stu­dents who en­roll in the CADD pro­gram “have no frame of ref­er­ence” prior to en­ter­ing the pro­gram, Buck­ler said, adding that he’ll give stu­dents an ap­ti­tude test to see if they’re a good fit.

Stu­dents who want to be in the pro­gram but may not have the in­nate abil­i­ties are still wel­come to give it a try, John­son said.

Those with CADD soft­ware abil­i­ties are “in high de­mand in the build­ing trades,” Buck­ler said, adding that it saves com­pa­nies ef­fort to “build it vir­tu­ally” be­fore in­vest­ing. He said, “It’s a lot of plan­ning up front but saves a lot of money” over­all.

Buck­ler said he’s whit­tled the cur­ricu­lum “down to what is re­quired” by the state, and up­dates the pro­gram us­ing re­com- men­da­tions from the ad­vi­sory board of lo­cal pro­fes­sion­als. Each pro­gram at the For­rest cen­ter has an ad­vi­sory board to keep the cur­ricu­lum up to date.

Leonard­town High School ju­nior Kather­ine Hilsinger said she en­joys work­ing with the school’s Uni­ver­sal Laser Sys­tems etcher and the 3D CNC router to cre­ate or em­bel­lish ob­jects. She was mak­ing progress on a project that called for a logo to be en­graved onto stain­less steel tum­blers and other cups. She said she en­joys “build­ing some­thing [and] make it come to life.”

She said she felt like she was break­ing the mold by be­ing in a male-dom­i­nated school pro­gram. “It’s nice to see other girls in here, too,” she said, adding that she even­tu­ally wants to study mecha­tron­ics af­ter high school.

Buck­ler said he’s also work­ing with stu­dents to im­prove their “soft” skills and how to be more pro­duc­tive in a work en­vi­ron­ment. He said em­ploy­ers might hes­i­tate to hire young peo­ple be­cause of a per­ceived lack of work ethic.

John­son said school staff are en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to have grit and con­tinue through project mis­takes rather than let them stop a stu­dent from fin­ish­ing their work. “No­body gets it right the first time,” she said.

Hilsinger said one thing she would tell peers who are in­ter­ested in the CADD pro­gram is to have pa­tience to see a project through. “Work your hard­est to fig­ure out how to solve” a prob­lem, she said, and stu­dents will “prob­a­bly get it right the se­cond time.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

Pro­duc­tion en­gi­neer­ing teacher Drew Evans, left, points Fri­day while Great Mills High School ju­nior Kyle Mashek grabs a bot­tle while pre­par­ing to use a school-owned drill at the Dr. James A. For­rest Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

Leonard­town High School se­nior Ma­son Gibbs, cen­ter, works Fri­day at a school lathe while Great Mills High School ju­nior James Thomas, left, and Chop­ti­con High School ju­nior Nathaniel Ni­cholas watch at the Dr. James A. For­rest Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter.

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