Innnovative projects are the result of expanded technology and manufacturing instruction designed to provide hands-on technical training for 21st century students in Oregon. Some of the projects include a drone helicopter to record marching band formations, a $75 french horn mouthpiece made for just $5 and phone cases emerging from a 3-D printer.
Those are the kind of projects that Sherwood High School students are already churning out. Now with a $494,000 grant from the state, school officials plan to buy more equipment, expand technology and manufacturing instruction to middle schools and share their knowledge across the state.
Simple wood-carving in shop class doesn’t cut it for the 21st century job market, school officials say. A computer matters more than a saw. In the corner of the Bowmen Fabrication Laboratory’s computer lab, a 3-D printer rests alongside the paper printer. In adjacent wide open rooms, students are carving metal, building robots and using laser and vinyl cutters.
“You read statistics that manufacturing is coming back, but the jobs coming with it are advanced and high-tech,” said Gary Bennett, Sherwood School District’s academic chief.
Hands-on Technical Training
Sherwood High School, among the state’s top academic performers, has a reputation for hands-on technical training. Recently, hundreds of students in architecture, environmental science and carpentry classes built a house that sold this summer.
John Niebergall, Sherwood’s longtime engineering and shop instructor, has kept his students ahead of the curve for more than a decade. Back in 2002, students were starting to draw 3-D models on computers before grabbing a sander.
Now they can take a step further and make parts and vinyl stickers with automated computer commands instead of by hand. The goal is exposing students to both the brainstorming and hands-on production sides of manufacturing.
“They aren’t going to all be engineers, but a lot of them can be engineer technician,” said Niebergall. “If our kids can design and produce, that’s a great skill set.”
Sherwod High has already caught the eye of the manufacturing industry. They showed off some of their work at a manufacturing summit in Portland Jan 15 and were featured on KGW.
“It’s a constant theme that high schools aren’t prompting manufacturing as a viable option for employment,” said Chris Scherer, executive director of Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which hosted the summit. Sherwood, he said, was an exception.
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