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Students get experience in manufacturing career paths at Southside Technical Center


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Working in teams, the students keep a calendar and project management log, design and document their process, fill out contracts, and handle other decisions as if they were professionals on the job.

 
By Tammy L. Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
 
 
High school students sometimes have no idea what they want to do when they graduate. Hands-on experience in different fields is what one Lexington school offers its students.
 
At Southside Technical Center, students considering a career in manufacturing now have a more focused path through a class called Advanced Technology for Design and Production.
 
This course enables them to stick with material directly related to manufacturing without going into the specifics of engineering or electronics, for instance.
 
“It gives you an overview, like basic training in the military,” said Zach Millsaps, a freshman from Henry Clay High School.
 

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The hope is that through these classroom projects, students gain a rudimentary understanding of what manufacturing involves and decide whether it’s what they want to do for a living.

It’s the first program in the Integrated Production Technologies series produced by the Southern Regional Education Board. Southside plans to add to the advanced career curriculum if enough students are interested, according to instructor Sam Arnold.
 
Millsaps and classmate Cassie Robinson certainly think it’s worthwhile.
 
“We have a lot of machines you’d find in big warehouses and plants. We can take these skills straight into a job,” said Millsaps, mentioning the Toyota facility in Georgetown as an example.
 
Robinson is also glad she chose this ninth-grade elective, saying, “This is the most fun I have all day. It challenges your mind.”
 
The students use Solid Edge CAD software and a 3-D printer in the creative and analysis steps, document their designs according to industry standards, and incorporate green production and just-in-time component supply, which allow for the lowest cost and highest quality products.
 
Those interested in architecture and drafting, like Robinson, especially benefit from making 3-D models. The freshmen will eventually use cameras and sensors to control automated systems.
 
The class, which is made up of about 40 students, requires six main projects such as building a working electrical motor, setting up a model assembly line, and reverse-engineering a common appliance.
 
“My goal is to take a product like a blender and make it better,” Millsaps explained.
 

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The students use Solid Edge CAD software and a
3-D printer in the creative and analysis steps.

Working in groups of four, the students keep a calendar and project management log, design and document their process, fill out contracts, and handle other decisions as if they were professionals on the job.
 
“They have to come up with all the steps and bust it apart if necessary, take measurements, and research why we chose this project and what improvements would they like to make,” said Arnold, noting the idea is to make an existing product faster, cheaper or better using different materials or their own spin.
 
The hope is that through such projects, students gain a rudimentary understanding of what manufacturing involves and decide whether it’s what they want to do for a living. With this new class and the potential for three more in the series, Southside could offer a continuous program of study that captures the attention of local manufacturing businesses.
 
As Arnold said, his students could complete the Industrial Maintenance Technology program at Toyota, continue their studies at Bluegrass Community & Technical College, pursue a four-year degree at the University of Kentucky, or apply with a company like Link-Belt Construction Equipment.
 


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